Hi everybody! Welcome to our wedding blog, I guess is what this is.
So Justin and I met over five years ago on a discussion forum called The Circle, which is part of the official website of author Ted Dekker. We hit it off pretty much right away and started emailing and instant messaging a lot. At the time, I was going to college in Mississippi and he was in Arkansas; I got him interested in transfering to my college, so he visited the campus in March and that's when we met in person. After that, he decided to transfer and we started dating the next semester. And we've been together ever since!
In April 2009, on the day before Easter, Justin took me out to a park for a picnic with some friends. The park is on a reservoir and people go boating and stuff out there a lot. Anyway, Justin wanted to go sit out on a dock, so we did. It was cold, cloudy, and windy, so I was bundled up in a sweatshirt and the blanket I'd brought for the picnic. =) We sat out on the dock for a while while Justin tried to think of a really eloquent lead-in for a proposal. After several false starts, with me still completely in the dark (perhaps due in part to the cold), he just pulled out the ring and asked me to marry him. It was the happiest day of our lives! - so far.
We're getting married in a beautiful Victorian-era house that was recently renovated and, more recently, turned into an event center. We are so excited to celebrate the beginning of our life together with our family and friends!
I am so in love with our venue, I wish it were still a real house so we could buy it and live there. It is Victorian, circa 1904, recently renovated and landscaped.
It has a waterfall . . .
. . . and a koi pond.
This is where I will enter:
and we could have the ceremony indoors . . .
. . . or outdoors. Because of the number of guests we're anticipating, it will probably be outdoors.
It has some nice places to sit and relax, too.
So glad we found it, and so glad the owner does all the decorating! I can hardly wait to see how it looks.
I love pictures, and one wedding trend that I love is the slideshow of the bride and groom growing up and then together. Especially if I don't know one of them that well, it helps me feel like I'm getting to know them. I really wanted Justin and me to have one of these, and since I learned how to use PowerPoint in junior high I thought I'd take a crack at it myself! This is how I did it, or rather, how you can do your own!
Step 1. Compile pictures.
This was the hardest part of the whole process because it was sooo time-consuming. I went through photo albums of my family and the shoebox full of pictures of Justin's family that his grandma had given me. I tried to cover every stage of life: infant, toddler, child, preteen, junior high, high school, up to the point where we met, in college. Then I scanned all these pictures onto my computer (the time-consuming part, even though I tried scanning three or four pictures at a time). Luckily I already had all the pictures of the two of us together on my computer, because by then I'd switched to digital anyway.
With the childhood pictures especially I tried to find the pictures that were sort of "iconic," the ones that everybody would remember.
***Note: I could've saved myself a lot of time if I'd known ahead of time how many pictures I would need, because I picked out WAY too many. See Step 2.***
Step 2. Do the math.
After spending all that time scanning about 150 pictures (no kidding) in addition to the hundreds I already had of both of us, I had to cut some of them out. The reason for this is that there's a formula for how long a slideshow should be and how many pictures you should show per minute. Generally you want the slideshow to be 8-12 minutes, and you don't want to have more than 75-100 pictures for that amount of time. It translates to something like 6-8 seconds per picture. That seems like a long time to have one picture up, but consider that people are probably not going to have their eyes glued to the screen the whole time, especially if the slideshow is playing while other stuff is going on. Plus, these pictures probably won't be as familiar to your guests as they are to you; they'll need a few seconds just to take each picture in.
I figure you should have three songs: one for the bride's pictures, one for the groom's pictures, and one for the couple's pictures, although you can overlap it any way you want. So that means you're looking for songs that are 2 1/2 to 4 minutes long. You could do two four-minute songs (or even longer) for a shorter slideshow, but if it's going to be closer to 12 minutes you'll want to break it up more anyway by using three songs.
Step 3. Import your pictures
The quickest way I know of to do this is to put all the pictures you want to use in your slideshow into one folder. Then (if you're using PowerPoint), click "Insert," then "Photo Album." Then you click to insert pictures from file/disk, find the folder with your pictures, and highlight all the pictures to insert them into your slideshow.
This is probably the point where, if you don't already have the pictures in the order you want them to be in, you should sort them. Once you're sorted, you're ready to design.
One simple way to add a nice touch to your photos is to change the way they appear. If you don't do anything to them, they'll be flat images. Click on a picture and it'll open up a Format tab, in which you can make the photo tilted or slanted or put a border around it. Tip: don't get too complicated. If you give all your pictures a different effect it'll look disjointed and all your slideshow will say is "Hey, I know how to do picture styles!" You want your slideshow to say something about you and your new spouse; going crazy with flashy options just detracts from that. So I recommend doing all the pictures in the same, or a similar, style. I chose to put a border around mine with a shadow, like a 3D photograph. Then I just tilted the pictures different ways.
Step 4. (optional) Choose your template.
I did my slideshow with PowerPoint, but there are other similar programs you can use (I've also used Corel Presentations in the past). Anyway, you can use one of the default templates (backgrounds), or you can look for one online. There are lots of sites that have free PowerPoint templates (Google it), but there are also some that you can buy. Here are a few sites:
Or you can just do an image search:
Somehow, somewhere, I found a template that went perfectly with our wedding colors and flowers - calla lilies:
Now, the reason this step is optional is because you can create slideshows without PowerPoint and/or make your pictures full-screen size. I wanted to have a picture in the background, and I also wanted the pictures in the slideshow to look like photo prints, as I described in the previous step.
Step 5: Set up your animation.
This is the part where you establish how long each picture will be shown and how you'll get from one picture to the other. Again, if you're using PowerPoint, click on Animation, then find where it says "Advance Slide." You want them to advance automatically, and you can enter how many seconds to delay between transitions (6-8 remember).
For transitions, you have a lot of options: fades, wipes, slides, explosions, stripes, rolls, and who knows what else. Note from a video editor: don't go nuts with this. If you do a different transition for every picture and go with the fanciest shmanciest ones, you're just calling attention to your fancy shmancy transitions, and that is a classic amateur mistake. What you want to draw attention to is the pictures, right? So use the same transition for each picture (okay, you can use up to 3 transitions), and I recommend using something simple, like a fade. I also set it up to transition slowly, rather than quickly - again, a quick transition will draw more attention to the transition and be kind of jarring to watch.
Step 6: Choose your music.
You can do this at any point, really, but from this point on you'll need the music to finish the slideshow. There are a lot of songs that are commonly used during wedding slideshows. Here are some examples:
But you don't have to use those. My fiancé chose " Take to the World" by Derek Webb for the pictures of him growing up. I chose a version of Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," which is one of the ones one the list.
The song for the pictures of the two of you together is sort of like your first dance song - it should be representative of the two of you as a couple, but it should also reflect the pictures you have selected. I went through a few different songs before I found the right one. I really love the song "Heaven" by DJ Sammy. The first version I tried, the Candlelight Mix, is really soft and romantic and pretty but it just didn't fit with our pictures, which were more upbeat and sometimes silly.
Then I tried our song, "Wouldn't It Be Nice" by The Beach Boys. It was a little better, but way, way too short. But finally I remembered the other version of "Heaven," which actually Justin and I listened to the day we got engaged (like a thousand times). It is seriously one of the happiest songs you will ever hear. I put it in the slideshow, and it was perfect!
The way you add audio to a slideshow is: while viewing the first slide that you want to show first during a given song, click "insert" and then "sound." Select the song file you want to use and insert it. Then (this is very important) click on the little speaker that represents your sound file, and it'll open an options tab. Where it says "Play sound" and has a drop-down folder, select "play across slides." If you don't do this, the song will start during the first slide and then stop when the next slide comes up. Do this for each of the songs you selected, making sure you insert the sound file on the slide that you want visible when the song starts.
Step 7: Edit the timing.
At this point, you want to play your slideshow through to see if the length of the songs matches up to the length of the slideshow. If the song finishes and you still have some pictures left, you either have to shorten the time between slides (I wouldn't go below 6 seconds though), or you're going to have to remove some of the pictures. If there's extra time in the song, you can stretch out the time between transitions (probably not more than 8 seconds) or add more pictures.
Step 8: Tweak.
You might find that some of the pictures in your slideshow go really nicely with certain lyrics in your songs. For a nice effect, see if you can arrange the pictures so that they match up with those lyrics, or so that the pictures you like most pop up on a strong downbeat or the climax of a song, or something like that. For instance: on the line "I'll be standing here by you," I have a wide shot Justin and me standing on a beach; at the beginning of one chorus I have a kind of romantic picture of us; when the chorus repeats I have a silly picture; and at the end of that chorus it changes to my favorite picture of us right on the downbeat.
And then make sure you end on a strong note, with something that makes a statement. Our statement is, "we're heading toward our future together."
And that's basically it! It's a lot of fun to do and with a little time and attention you'll have something you'll be really proud of.
My wedding has a pearls and lace motif, and while designing my Save the Dates (which I'm sending via email to be more green, in every sense of the word), I thought it would look really nice to use something like that as a background. After an unsuccessful online search, I realized I could make my own background using my own wedding dress and a strand of pearls.
Here are the shots I took. Since I am a nice person, and also not a professional photographer, you have permission to use them if you want. :) I uploaded them to ImageShack so you can use the full sized pictures.
But more importantly, this is something you can do yourself very easily; all you need is a camera that has a macro focus option, and then use whatever for your background - a lace fan, the train of your gown, your bridal jewelry, or anything else pretty.
When making my Save the Dates, I found that my DIY background (even though it's pretty much white) made the print a little difficult to read, so I used the gradient tool in Paint.NET (I'm sure you can do it in Photoshop too, but Paint.NET is free) to make it semi-transparent. If you are unfamiliar with image editing, don't worry because this is really easy too. Just click the gradient tool, make sure it's set to "transparency mode," then click on one side of the picture and drag the cursor to the other side. This will make the picture "fade out" in the direction you dragged the cursor. Experiment with different fades - for mine I started the gradient at the righthand side of the image and dragged it straight left (also, the farther you drag, the more visible the image will be).
And that's really all there is to it: my beautiful, absolutely free (if you don't count the cost of my dress, jewelry, and engagement pictures), environment- and wallet-friendly Save the Dates!
Justin and I are doing a Salt Covenant ceremony, which is like a sand ceremony but it is actually an ancient covenant dating back thousands of years to the Hebrew people. The Bible refers to salt covenants a few times but there aren't any stories that describe the ceremony so a lot of people have never heard of it.
Here is some information about salt covenants:
Once we decided we wanted to make a salt covenant at our wedding, we realized we had to find objects to do this with. You can buy salt covenant kits online from http://www.marriagesaltcovenant.com - they will run you $75-$90 for the three bottles (you can choose from a number of shapes and sizes) with cork stoppers, two picture frames (you can choose different finishes and sizes), and instructions for your officiant on how to perform the ceremony. Standard domestic shipping is free. You can also find a salt covenant kit with a totally different look on Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/listing/42407282/the-salt-covenant-a-wedding-gift-eco This is $60 plus $15 shipping. But I'm sure you can use any jars that are for sand ceremonies, or any jars you want at all, for this.
Anyway, I thought the kits looked a little pricey, so I went shopping in my own hometown. I found the most beautiful jars at a locally-owned home furnishings store:
(The candle isn't part of the ceremony; I just wanted it because it matched and it's pretty.)
The two pouring jars aren't the same (they were the last two in stock), but I kind of like it that way becuase Justin and I aren't the same. We're different people, each with our own separate lives, coming together to make a new life. I couldn't be happier with my purchase. So now I figure I'll just get picture frames at Walmart, or even the Dollar Tree.
The total cost of the three jars was $55.90, but I only paid $35.90 because I had a coupon (another advantage of shopping locally). I also got a funnel for $2.99 for pouring purposes, and the little crown candle was $22.95. This was more money than I originally wanted to spend, but I think it's worth it because a) these are incredibly beautiful, and b) I supported local a business in buying them.
If you want to do a salt covenant (or a sand ceremony, for that matter), don't just fork over big bucks online for something that is not all that special or unique before you look around for what you can get at home first. You might end up saving money, and you will be supporting small businesses who need your patronage to stay open!