“No One Danced at the Wedding!”

Tips on Choosing Your Wedding DJ and Music Lineup So You Reception is the Dance Party That It Should Be.

Stevie Wonder, Maroon Five, Journey, JT or Michael Jackson—no matter whose songs you decide to play at your wedding reception, we can all agree that music is important.  Yea, we know your family and friends are partly there to see you tie the knot, but let’s face it 90% of their reason for hitting that RSVP button, was to party like a rockstar with you and your new spouse. And who can resist a good dance party?? Of course, the key here is to make sure that you and your DJ are on the same page and that they are playing music that keeps everyone dancing. Hopefully this post will give you some tips to help you do that and make sure that you’re not left exclaiming, “No One Danced at the Wedding!”

True Story…. I have worked at many a wedding reception where no one danced– that’s right you heard me, not even the ring bearer or flower girls could be bothered to venture out to the dance floor. The DJ was doing his best to be the “Hype Man/Upbeat Emcee” but unfortunately the list of songs given to him by the bride and groom consisted of 92% Backstreet Boys songs on repeat, and 8% cupid shuffle.  The bridesmaids were even embarrassed.  Don’t let this happen to you. Should you play songs that you love at your wedding? Sure.  But if you want to party with your friends and family and not just have them watch you party, make sure you look at some of the tips in this post.

No One Danced at the Wedding

Choose your DJ wisely

Once you have made the decision to go the DJ route, start looking right away, the good DJ’s book quickly.  Get recommendations from family and friends who have planned weddings before, or better yet, ask your photographer. You want to go with a DJ who has played weddings and not just the guy or gal who plays every Friday night at the downtown club. There is a difference between acceptable music for a night out and what’s acceptable for a formal event where your grandmother and colleagues will attend. My favorite Lake Tahoe DJs?  Ryan Palmer and Dylan Thomas over at Lake Tahoe DJ and David Berkman with Ascent DJ Productions, no question. My least favorite DJs? I’m not shy about sharing that list also, but you have to already be my client to get it.

No One Danced at the Wedding

 

Everyone may not love Brittney as much as you do.

I know this statement may break your heart, and I’m sorry, but just because Brittney Spears singlehandedly produced the sound track of your adolescence and you have “so many fun memories attached to her songs,” does not mean half of your wedding songs should be dedicated to her.  Yea sure, throw in a song or two so that you and your middle school best friends will be enticed to tear it up on the dance floor and relive those 6th grade dance nights, but let’s leave it at that.  Make sure you request a variety of music that will get all your guests to the dance floor.  Also make sure that your songs include not only different genres, but also that they span all decades.  Granny and Great-Uncle Charlie want to dance too and not to the Spice Girls.

No One Danced at the Wedding

Watch out for “Marathon Songs”

Make sure your DJ knows not only what to play, but how long to play certain songs.  No one wants to get caught on the dancefloor dancing to a song they love and trying to stay until its finished, only to find out that the DJ is seriously playing the entire 14-minute extended version of the song. This is especially sound advice for any DJ playing a line dance song. Everyone loves their favorite song, but seriously a 14-minute song is a workout that most of your guests did not sign up for.

No One Danced at the Wedding

Line Dances: Be very, very careful

Speaking of line dances, you should seriously consider whether you even want to include them.  Yes, we know they get people to the dance floor, but this is one of those things that is so terribly overused, that it is has almost become the worst kind of cliché. While researching for this post, I found that many couples have even asked their DJ’s to not include line dance songs at all. Whatever you decide, do not, I repeat, DO NOT by any means allow a DJ to play the Cupid Shuffle more than one time at your reception (If you allow it at all).  This song has been so overplayed by DJ’s at weddings and nightclubs that most wedding industry vendors (including myself!) Would literally rather pull our ears off slowly than hear it one more time. We can imagine that many wedding guests feel the same way.  Just. Don’t. Do. It.

wedding guests dancing

Hopefully these tips help you choose your wedding DJ wisely and keep the dance party going well into the wee hours of your reception.

To Hyphenate or Not? What to do with Your Surname After the Wedding

To Hyphenate or Not? What to do with Your Surname After the Wedding

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Hundreds of years ago even Shakespeare understood the gravity of choosing or carrying a family name.  Romeo struggled with the choice of giving his up and being with his forever love or hanging on to it and losing her altogether.  Lucky for us, deciding what to do with your last name after marriage doesn’t have such grave consequences.  It can however, be a tough decision for a couple to make. Names can hold cultural significance or help identify you as a proud member of a prominent family in your community.  Long ago, there were hard traditional rules to the last name situation, but times have changed and now couples are choosing different routes altogether.  So, if you and your partner are in this phase of merging your lives and trying to figure out what to do with the last names, just know that you don’t have to settle for tradition.  Here are few ways couples are deciding to merge their last names.

To Hyphenate or Not? What to do with Your Surname After the Wedding

The Traditional Way

I know I started this by talking about non-traditional routes, but I thought it would be good to start with this one to lay the foundation.  I think we all know the traditional way to handle your last name after marriage is having one partner take the last name of the other. In the past, it was the woman who would take her husband’s last name, however in essence it is just one partner deciding to replace their last name with the other partner’s. Doing this requires a lot more work than some of the other options including filing for a new birth certificate and social security card, changing your name on your driver’s license and passport, and of course paying the fees associated with those changes. There are other issues you may run into as well, if you go this route. For example, is if it is the husband who wants to take the last name of the wife or if you are a same-sex couple, things get a little trickier.  In some states those two situations don’t allow couples to go through the standard marriage name change procedures.  Instead you would need to file for a legal name change that requires petitioning the court and putting out a public notice which could cost you a few hundred bucks.

To Hyphenate or Not? What to do with Your Surname After the Wedding

Keep Your Given Name

I mean, it’s yours after all.  You have likely walked around with that name your whole life, it is nice and worn in and comfortable.  It is who you are.  That can be reason enough to keep your name, but there are a host of other reasons people decide to do this.  The most common are for practical and professional reasons.  Practically speaking its low-maintenance.  You don’t have to make any changes or pay any fees.  You just continue with your regular life after the wedding.  Other people keep it for professional reasons.  You might own a business and it carries your name, there’s no need to change that when you keep your surname.  Or you have built a professional image around your name and its your personal brand.  Changing it could be a marketing disaster.  There are also familial or cultural reasons.  A good friend of mine comes from a large Korean family who is very involved in their community.  They have a unique last name, so when she introduces herself, people know who her family is and value what they have done in the community.  When she got married, she wanted to stay connected with that culture of community support her family was known for, so she kept her family name.

To Hyphenate or Not? What to do with Your Surname After the Wedding

Add Punctuation/Hyphenate

This is probably the second most common way that couples choose to merge their last names.  They just add a hyphen.  Think “Jane Doe-Smith, or John Adams-Brown.” Rumor has it that even Jay Z has hyphenated his and Beyoncé’s surname to become Shawn Knowles-Carter since she doesn’t have any brothers and they wanted to carry the family name on. This is an easy way to have the best of both worlds.

To Hyphenate or Not? What to do with Your Surname After the Wedding

Create a New Name Altogether

Not only has this idea gained popularity in the last decade, but it just sounds awesome.  Some couples have decided to ditch their given names altogether and come up with their own. They are using names they made up as kids or choosing to merge their two surnames (Dawson and Hobbs become Dobbs or Hawson), or simply choosing something that references mutual hobbies or passions, like my clients Sara and Will did: their new last name references one of their favorite Doctor Who episodes.  Of course, this would likely require a legal name change and a few dollars in fees, but what I’ve heard from couples who have done this is that is prevents the need to choose one name over the other or to make your names extra long with hyphens.

To Hyphenate or Not? What to do with Your Surname After the Wedding

Hopefully, this post gives you a solid list of options when deciding what to do with your surname after the wedding is over.  And just as Shakespeare wrote many, many moons ago and much more eloquently than I can, no matter what you decide to do, a name doesn’t change who you are you’ll still be that perfectly sweet smelling rose no matter how you decide to sign.

 

To Hyphenate or Not? What to do with Your Surname After the Wedding

Wedding favors

Football, Fly Fishing, or Film: How to Incorporate Your Favorite Hobbies into Your Wedding Festivities

So, you met your life partner at the local theater’s all-day Star Wars marathon and ever since then you two have been inseparable.  You two can be found at every indie movie midnight showing and every film trivia night at all the bars in town.  We get it, you love film, or maybe it’s not film, but football, or ballroom dancing, either way, it’s an integral part of who you are as a couple and you want to share that somehow throughout your wedding festivities. The question is how do you go about it without feeling like a giant cheeseball?  Below are a few fun and classy ways to incorporate your favorite hobbies into your wedding festivities.

Wine Country Engagement

Shoot Your Engagement Photos “On Location”

Your engagement photos are a perfect place to demonstrate your love for your hobbies as a couple.  This can start with location. It requires a little thinking outside of the box, but If you spend your Wednesday nights competing in your local bowling league, why not use that bowling alley for your shoot location.  Okay, so maybe that one is a bit cheesy, but it could also be a location shoot on a golf course, a museum, or a trail you love to hike, or a destination location that you love.  Can’t live without wine? Let’s go to Napa!  I love activities as a shared day taking photos – it’s an easy way to share your interests with the people you love, and the photos turn out amazing.

Alternative Engagement Session Ideas

Integrate Props that Display your Hobby into your Wedding

If you’d rather not shoot your engagement photos at a bowling alley, or if the perfect location is inaccessible, there are always ways to integrate things you love into your wedding decor.  Who says your wedding has to have burlap or the color of the year as it’s centerpiece (oh yeah, the knot does).  F that!  Want an off the wall wedding theme?  How about dinosaurs?  WHY NOT.  Two good clients of mine met and bonded over their love of Magic and so their wedding centerpieces were quick to learn table games that their friends and family could play at their reception during the Magic Tournament they also held.  You do you.   

Magic the Gathering WeddingDinosaur Themed Wedding

 

Wedding Party Gifts

Like most couples your bridesmaids and groomsmen will likely have some things in common with you.  After all, these are your closest friends and family members. If you share a common hobby or interest, consider gifting them with something that corresponds with that hobby.  Hand built barbeque pits were the perfect groomsman gifts for my friend who grills with the men in his family once a week. I also thought about my cousin who was part of a book club and bought her bridesmaids a bottle of their favorite wine with a book attached. The great thing about these types of gifts is that it helps support a hobby that you and your friends can enjoy together.

Wedding Party Gift Ideas

Wedding at the Museum (Venue Location)

Much like the idea of taking your engagement photos at a place that you as a couple frequent, this idea involves location.  This recommendation however, takes that one a step further and instead of just a location for photo shoots, why not choose your actual wedding venue based on your hobbies?  If you spend a lot of time checking out museums, consider renting out a museum in your city for your wedding day or maybe you are both teachers and met at a school, see if it is available for events. 

Designer Wedding Cakes

Last, but certainly not least, if you don’t want your whole wedding focused on your hobbies, designing a cake that reflects your interests adds just a small touch of who you are into your big day without it completely stealing the show.  Pastry artists and bakeries have advanced in their cake making skills at a rapid pace and you can have a cake designed that looks exactly like R2D2, the Dallas Cowboys football stadium, or a giant scarf with knitting needles and tastes equally delicious.  Don’t want to go overboard?  Just add a custom cake topper that represents the two of you!  It’s a bit more subtle than the other ideas, but it still makes a statement about who you are as a couple and the bonus is that it looks great in your wedding photos!

Wedding Cake Toppers

There are a multitude of ways that you can incorporate your hobbies into your wedding festivities, these are just a few.  The important thing is to make sure that you make this day about you and use it as an opportunity to share the things you love as a couple with the people you love.

Bride Groom dancing

7 Ways to Hold a Charitable Wedding

Let’s all be honest here: weddings cost a lot of money for all parties involved.  The spending spree usually starts with the hefty purchase of the engagement ring, and continues beyond the honeymoon.  For some people the excessive consumerism required to plan a wedding is something they could do without.  Planning the “Wedding of the Year” doesn’t mean you have to be the biggest spender of the year. Of course, we all know there are some big cost involved, but many couples are now working to make their wedding less about consuming and more about charity. If you are looking for opportunities to use your special day to help improve the lives of those in your community, consider some of the ideas below as ways to hold a charitable wedding.

marraige proposal

Consider Making Your Bachelor or Bachelorette Party a Volunteer Event.  

Think about some of your favorite hobbies.  In what ways can you and your bridal party use those interests or skills to serve others?  Are you a huge animal lover or often get called “the dog whisperer”? The local animal shelters are always in need of volunteers to come out and help walk or spend time with lonely pups. Or maybe you have always wanted to help at your local food pantry, they usually need small volunteer groups to help organize their donations.  Take your bridal party out for a few hours of community service and maybe continue the party with drinks later that night.  It’s the perfect opportunity to blend helping your community with spending time with your favorite guys or gals.

Wine glasses at a table

Host a Food Drive During Your Engagement Party or Bridal Shower.

If you are already anticipating a massive influx of wedding gifts, why not dedicate your bridal shower or engagement party gifts to charity.  Instead of having guest bring you a gift personally, maybe ask that they bring in a bag of canned goods or other non-perishable food items.  You can also ask friends who may not have time to attend the entire shower to just drop by, say hello and drop off donations as well.  Guests might be relieved to not have to choose the perfect gift to bring and have an even better time focusing on the actual event.

Bride and Groom

Use Amazon Smile When Making Wedding Purchases.

AmazonSmile is a great way to make sure that all your spending does some good too. AmazonSmile allows you to choose a charity and they in turn will donate a percentage of what you spend to your chosen organization.  To go a step further, if you have an amazon wedding registry you can ask your guest to use your charity when shopping for your wedding gifts to ensure that even more donations make it their way.

bridal party laughing

Have Your Bridesmaids or Groomsmen Donate their Unwanted Wedding Attire to an “Operation Prom” Organization.

Okay, they don’t have to tell you upfront that they thought your choice of dress was hideous or that they can’t think of when they would ever wear it again, but making this an option for your special ladies or gentleman can help ease the uncomfortable thoughts they may have about the best way to get rid of that dress without you finding out. Give them the out they are so desperately seeking and let it go to some lucky teenage girl or boy who might not otherwise be able to afford a formal gown. There are several organizations out there that provide gently used evening attire to teenagers who are not able to afford a prom dress or tux on their own. A few to look into are “Project G.L.A.M,”   “Operation Prom” and “Becca’s Closet.” You can either have your wedding party bring clothes to change into after the reception and leave it in an available closet or box, or arrange for drop off after the wedding.  Either way, you make some gal or guy’s prom dreams come true.

Guests with food

Donate Leftover Wedding Food and Goodies to a Local Homeless Shelter or Food Pantry

Along with wedding attire, there is usually tons of leftover, unwanted food and wedding trinkets that family and friends of the bride and groom are practically begging guests to take as they walk out the door.  Even with all the pleading, much of it gets left behind and unfortunately thrown away. A great way to prevent this from happening and help your family and friend “clean-up crew,” is to plan to donate all the leftover food to people who really need it.  Local shelters and food pantries generally welcome all the help with extra food they can get.  Just designate someone (or a few people) in advance to be the delivery guys and feel good knowing you saved a piece of a landfill and you helped feed your community at the same time.

No gifts please

In Lieu of Wedding Gifts, ask Guests for Donations

In a day and time when many couples already live together pre-marriage, the same old wedding registry gifts of housewares are just not needed anymore.  If you have already outfitted your home the way you want, and have all you need, why not forego the registry altogether and have guests donate to a specific non-profit cause?  There are a couple of ways to do this, but first choose a charity that is important to you as a couple.  Then you can either have guests donate on their own, or use a website that allows you to create a “charity registry.” It’s a bit more like a “GoFundMe” than a Macy’s registry, but it gives you the opportunity to share the story of why you as a couple want to support this particular charity. You then share the link with guests, so they can donate. 

Resources for black brides

Use Vendors Who Give Back

If you have been planning your celebration for even a short amount of time, you know that not all vendors are created equal.  There are lots of reasons couples choose the vendors they want to work with, but a great way to help you decide is to find out if they are giving back. Many vendors are socially conscious and not only want to build their business, but they also want to build their communities.  I give 10% of my profits each year to a non-profit that I choose based on it’s connections to my clients.  This year, my beneficiary is the Girls and Boys Club of Lake Tahoe.  You can read more about my current and former recipients here Consider using a network of vendors like “Black Sheep Bride,” which I am a founding member of, to find charitable, like-minded wedding and event vendors, who you know are using some of your money for good works; after all, it may take a little bit of the sting out of the costs! 

LGBTQ Wedding Experience

Interviews: The Texas LGBTQ Wedding Experience

June 26th, 2015 was a day that changed the lives of many people in the United States. It was one of those days, that ingrained into many people, the memory of exactly what they were doing when they heard the news. For a few of my friends in Texas, waiting on the state to make same-sex marriage legal was beginning to feel like a hopeless dream but that Friday changed it all. On June 26, 2015, The Supreme Court of the United States legalized same-sex marriage in all States and tears of joy, excitement, and hope were shed all around. Once they heard the news, couples could finally begin making those long-awaited ceremony plans. From where to find wedding photographers who shared a vision for their wedding (like…ahem, Lauren Lindley), to which traditional wedding aspects they should include. One of my oldest family friends was one of those couples who began planning. So, in honor of the recently celebrated Pride Parade in Austin, TX, I asked her and her close friend to share their Texas LGBTQ wedding experience. I believe these stories will help all couples find some joy, hope, advice and encouragement from reading.

LGBTQ Wedding Experience

Sheeanna & Rachael
Wedding Date: August 12th, 2015
Wedding Venue: Southeast Metropolitan Primitive Trail

How long have you been married? 2 years (10 years together)

Tell me how you met. We met through mutual friends. Talked on MySpace and then danced all night at the bar on ladies’ night a couple times. On one of the nights a friend asked Rachael to come home with me because I was too shy. One night turned into 10 years, and we were inseparable. We have only been apart from each other a handful of times since then.

Was there an official proposal? If so, who Proposed?  No. We always talked about being together forever. It was just something we knew mutually, but never thought would be legalized.

Did you decide to get married pre-supreme court decision or post?  Post.

Did that ruling affect your decision? Absolutely. Previously we had accepted the fact that we may never be able to marry legally, which was upsetting because we only wanted to have rights. A piece of paper would never split us up if we could not have done it legally, but it could prevent us from having rights if one of us were injured or ill, our property and our livelihoods, everything we built and shared together.

Did you both want to have a wedding?  If not, why not? We both wanted to marry each other always. But we differed on our opinions on the type of wedding. I (Sheeanna) wanted a big wedding, Rachael wanted a smaller wedding and does not enjoy being the center of attention. She felt it was something we should share between us and not everyone we knew. We compromised on the entire process and both had different things we wanted.

How long did you wait between the proposal and the wedding? We did not have an official proposal, we always just knew we would if it were legal. We married a few months after the supreme court ruling to pass same sex marriage.

Were your families accepting of a wedding? If not, what were some of their concerns? Yes and no. My (Sheeanna) mother and father were supportive and love Rachael. Though my father’s family were not all present in my life for ten years after I came out, my mother’s side has always been very accepting and present in our relationship. Rachael’s family has always been supportive and loving and accepted me immediately.

Did you decide on a big or small wedding?  Why? We had a very small elopement only including our sisters, our dog, and our mutual best friend. We got married on a primitive trail that we hiked often with our pup. We felt it was some of our best times and where we really found ourselves. We wanted it to be private, short, and sweet. Especially since it was one of the hottest days of the year. We married on the day of our existing anniversary of when we got together.

LGBTQ Wedding Experience 

Did you bring the standard traditions into your wedding (Ex: Father/Daughter Dance, throwing of the bouquet, etc.)? For the most part we did not. At first, the concept of being “wives” was an odd one to us. We merely wanted our rights as a married couple. We were always somewhat hesitant on the concept as there are so many in this world who are not accepting and ugly about it. We did get specific outfits to wear that all had the same general color scheme and our pup wore a tie made from some of my extra dress fabric. I (Sheeanna) made rose bouquets and boutonnieres, made of pages from Rachael’s favorite book series. We did not write our own vows and instead coordinated with our officiant on some basic vows that fit us well. We celebrated afterwards with a potluck at our favorite local greenbelt with all our family and friends who could be present.

Did you have any vendors or did you completely do it on your own? Why? We did all of it on our own. We wanted something simple and carefree, less stress.

Were your wedding vendors familiar with same-sex weddings?  (Did they have any experience in one?) Our wedding officiant was well known for marrying same sex couples.

Would you like to share the names of any vendors you would recommend? Give a brief review of their service? Spike Gillespie was wonderful. We had a meeting with her in person about a month before to go over different options for vows and she sent us some examples. She composed our ceremony for us based on what we wanted, hiked out a ¼ mile to our favorite trail spot and endured the 100-degree weather. We would absolutely recommend her to anyone we know.

Tell me about your wedding day.  How did you feel after it was over? Relieved. While we kept it small, it was still chaotic and a lot to work on. We had a beautiful time and were so grateful for all the people who came to celebrate with us. I don’t think it really felt real until we received our marriage certificate and then I (Sheeanna) cried for a while in relief and joy. We finally had the rights we wanted for so long, to the person we have loved for many years, and more to come.

What tips would you give other same-sex couples preparing to plan their wedding in Texas? Do what feels right for YOU! Often weddings end up turning into what your family or friends want, and none of that matters in the end. Your wedding day is about you as a couple and the love you share for each other. Whether you have a huge wedding, or a small elopement, it should be about what makes you happy. Your wedding is to celebrate the love you have for each other, not everyone else.

Sheeana and Rachael’s story of how they met was so cute, I could barely hold it together while writing this, but it is filled with so much love and friendship that you can’t help but hold onto hope for a love like this. Here are a few things that a took away from it.

1. MySpace did some things right.

This story proves that spending hours on end decorating your “about me” page was not a complete waste of time. I mean, just take a look at this story! But on a more serious note, online dating is totally a thing now. I know that’s hard to believe if you are over a certain age, but social media has changed the landscape for finding love. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. True love could be waiting on your besties friends’ list.

2. Add your own special touches to your wedding day.

Seriously, who else was extremely impressed by the idea of making boutonnieres, from pages of your love’s favorite book series? Not only is that truly genius, that but those little touches make for fantastic photos.

3. Make sure your wedding is about you.

When planning a wedding, it’s easy to get caught up into doing the things that would make your family and friends happy. Just don’t forget that this wedding is yours and about you and your love. Pick the vendors you want, and involve those who make you feel comfortable. Choose your own location and make the choice of big or small wedding on your own. The people who truly love you will support you.

LGBTQ Wedding Experience

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!

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.