Sibling Maid of Honor

The Starting Lineup: How to Choose Your Wedding Party

You’re gliding down the aisle in that beautiful white dress or dapper suit that you picked out 8 months ago with the help of your amazing best friend. You’re being led arm in arm by the most important person in your life until today, walking past a standing crowd of your closest neighbors, co-workers, relatives, and the people you love the most, staring at the partner who stole your heart. Then, standing across from your partner, there they are: the people who have held your hand through tears, held your hair after a night of too much fun (no such thing!), encouraged you, traveled with you, given you advice and always told you how great you are, even when you weren’t feeling it yourself. They are the first people who shouted for joy when you told them you were engaged.  But, who are they?

One of the most difficult decisions that you make once you start planning your wedding is choosing who will stand by your side on one of the most important days of your life. Just like an NCAA coach during March Madness, you can only play so many at a time.  How do you decide who makes the cut and who doesn’t?  If you are planning a very large wedding and have room for 15 people on each side (side note: please don’t do this and if you do, don’t hire me), this choice may not be too difficult to make, however if you can only accommodate 4 or 5 people, choosing will be a big deal. To complicate matters further, there’s absolutely no reason why your wedding party has to be all one gender. Fuck gender norms! It’s your wedding – pick the people who matter most to you!

So how do you go about it? Hopefully, the tips below can help you narrow the playing field and decide who to bench and who gets to be on the court.

The Five People You Should Consider for Your Wedding Party

 

Bridal Party Photo

#1:  The Family Member (Your Point Guard)

Okay, so this is a no brainer.  They were your first friend, first frenemy, and probably your closest confidant. They may have pulled your hair, roughed you up, stole your toys, or borrowed your clothes more often than you would’ve liked, but they are always the first to be by your side when you need a friend. It’s only logical to have them by your side as you say your forever vows.  There’s no reason that your sister or brother shouldn’t be standing by your side.

*Tip:  No sibling in your court? Why not make your grandparent or any other family member that you adore the person of honor?

Maid of Honor Speech

#2: The Current Best Friend (The Shooting Guard)

The one who you call when you need to vent about your boss, your current fiancé, and everything in between.  This is your person: the one you take trips with and share secrets that even your family or your romantic partner doesn’t know. They know you better than most, if not all people, because you simply can’t recreate intimacy with this much history.  They will bring your entire wedding guest list to tears with their speech. You consider them to be your human vault and you trust them with your life.  If you are lucky enough to have a platonic life partner like this as your best friend in your life, lucky you!  If your sibling did not make the starting point guard, this friend is it. You can trust them to both score and not drop the ball, leading your team to make your wedding perfect for you. 

*Tip:  If your current best friend is not the most responsible, consider having two people of honor to balance out responsibilities.  There are no hard-fast rules that say you can’t. It’s your wedding after all.

Best friends

#3: Your College/High School Best Friend (The Power Forward)

We are all constantly growing, changing and becoming who we are.  It’s an evolutionary process. You are likely not the same person you were 10 months ago, let alone 10 years ago. Just as some college ball players decide to leave their team and join another, or just move up into the pro leagues the people you started playing with, may not be the same people who are currently in your life.  However, this does not mean you no longer love them, or they didn’t play a significant role in who you have become. The “Power Forward” can play under the hoop or out in the wings or corner of the court.  They are also expected to get rebounds.  For this reason, consider adding them to your court. They may have seen you through some of the most difficult times in your life, caught you when you fell and put you back up.  They knew you before you were as shiny and clean as you are now.  They can most accurately attest to the hard work you have put in to become who you are, because they knew who you were.

*Tip: If you were the member of a fraternity, sorority or other organization, this might be the category for those crazy friends you spent the most awesome spring break vacations with.

LGBTQ Wedding Party

#4: Co-workers Who Became Friends (The Small Forward)

I know that these people could likely fit into a category above, but I thought I would separate them to confirm that it is okay to invite people you work with even if you hate your job. The small forward is the smaller of the two forwards on the team.  Though small, they still must be good enough to play on the inside.  This is not just anyone you work with: this is the person you met on your first day in the break room and you both immediately felt like you were long-lost siblings. The one you vent all your work frustrations with and who knows the inside work language and what the acronyms that you constantly spit out mean.  You don’t have to take time to explain why the report due yesterday was a total waste of time and energy like you would have to explain to your friends or family outside of the organization.  You’ve extended your relationship beyond the break room to happy hours after work and traveled together to your other co-worker’s awesome birthday boat party. Since work is a big part of your life, so are they.  Go ahead and put them on the team.

*Tip:  Don’t forget those former co-workers who could also fit into this role– especially if you changed jobs but were able to maintain a friendship with them.

Wedding Party

#5: Your Fiancé’s Family Member (The Center)

This may be a purely political choice.  However, one of the center’s primary jobs is playing defense and keeping the opposing team out of the paint.  I know your fiancé’s family may not be the opposing team, but if you have a mother in law that you don’t quite see eye to eye with, your fiancé’s sibling may be the best defensive player you have.  Providing communication with both sides of the family and the ability to smooth things out quickly if things get sticky during planning or the actual ceremony is priceless. Not only that, but not only are they great for playing the center, but the fact that you both love your future partner dearly makes them a great asset to your team.  Bonus points if you are already great friends with them.

*Tip:  If they have never met any of your friends prior to being invited to become a wedding party member, consider hosting a few informal happy hours, or gatherings at the beginning of your wedding planning to help them get acquainted with everyone and feel comfortable being a part of your team.

Hopefully these tips help you choose the players who will make sure your wedding day is a win.  Ultimately, you should choose the people who you absolutely couldn’t imagine not seeing at the end of that aisle as you walk to meet your forever love.

Bridal Party

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

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.