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Planning Wedding Ideas

  • Photos (clockwise from top left): Jessica Lorren Organic Photography, Jennifer Kloss Photography, White Loft Studio, Katie Osgood Photography, The Nichols, Sarah Hasstedt Photography

    Need inspiration for a winter wedding? A few of our editors share their favorites below:

    From the Fashion Editor – Accessorize your wedding gown with a fur bolero jacket and your bridesmaids’ dresses with pashmina shawls. Don’t forget a pair of red stiletto pumps.

    From the Flowers Editor – Bouquets of evergreens, poinsettias, roses, amaryllis, and stephanotis are a must-have. Maybe hang some mistletoe too? Check out more winter bouquets here.

    From the Decor Editor – Fill your centerpiece vases with holly berries and surround with candles to create ambiance.

    From the Favors Editor – Warm chocolate chip cookies and a cold glass of milk, gingerbread cookies, sugar cookies, gumdrops, miniature pine trees, you’ll be making your guests spirits merry and bright.

    0
  • Do you want your wedding exit to be as dramatic as your entrance? Don't bore your guests with the traditional throwing of the petals, instead try one of these stylish ideas:

    1. Sparklers 

    Photo by Anabella Charles Photography

    2. Getaway Car 

    Photo by Katelyn James Photography

    3. Bubbles

    Photo by 22 Photography

    4. Motorcycle

    Photo by Tim Harman Photography

    5. Confetti

    Photo by K & S Photo

     

     

    2
  • Once you have finally booked your venue, its time to pick your color scheme! You may think the colors are completely up to you; however, you should take into account the setting of your venue, the time of year your wedding is taking place and how formal or informal your ceremony and reception will be. Remember, not only do you want your color scheme to set the vibe for your wedding but also complement the venue. Here are our favorite color scheme combinations to inspire you: 

    Historic Home = Yellow + Gray

    Photo by Onelove Photography

    Garden = Mint + Blush

    Photo by Stacey Windsor Photography

    Ballroom = Ivory + White 

    Photo by Lane Dittoe 

    Beach = Navy Blue + Emerald 

    Photo by Katie Stoops Photography

    Barn = Purple + Orange 

    Photo by Dave Richards Photography

    Which color scheme did you choose? Let us know in the comments below! For more color scheme inspiration, browse our real wedding boards. 

    6
  • Photo by Jackie Cooper Photography

    Lots of questions swirl around what's OK and what's not when it comes to documenting a wedding via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. While experts will disagree up and down the line about what's appropriate for guests, at the end of the day it's ultimately up to the bride and groom. If you're in favor of live documentation, here's a few helpful tips for making the most of it. 

    1. Pick a #hashtag. 
    Twitter, Instagram, and now Facebook all use phrases proceeded by the "#" sign to group designated thoughts together in a consecutive stream. Pick something easy to remember, such as #DZWedding or #SmithPartyof2, and stick with the same one for all events surrounding your wedding. 

    2. Share that hashtag with your guests—just don't do it too early. 
    Sending out Save-the-Dates and then actual invitations is very exciting, but these are not the places to share your wedding hashtag (leave those for the most pertinent information). It is fine, however, to share your hashtag on your wedding website as it gets closer to your actual ceremony. Guests will be logging on for last-minute gift registry, directions, and other information, and this will get them excited to share snaps and thoughts from the day when it actually arrives.  

    3. Consider your platforms. 
    Users generally have a larger following on Twitter, but those followers are more likely to be professional, personal interest, or internet-only connections. Facebook circles are generally smaller, but your photos will more likely be seen by people who may be hurt they were not invited to the wedding. Instagram is the most private of the platforms, with people mostly following real life friends. If you're concerned about privacy, you may want to (politely) request that guests refrain from posting on a particular platform. 

    4. Wedding weekend has arrived! Now's the time to remind everyone of your hashtag. 
    Have a bunch of guests staying at one hotel? Include your hashtag on any welcome notes you leave in their rooms. When it comes time for the actual wedding, instruct greeters and members of the wedding party  to spread the word as guests arrive. You can also put include it at the top of your ceremony program. 

    5. But wait—do you really want phones out at the ceremony? 
    Think carefully about encouraging social media at your actual ceremony. Sure, it will be wonderful to see photos from the very moment you say 'I Do', but you also run the risk of amateur photographers accidentally blocking the shots of your professional ones. Having a night ceremony? There may be multiple flashes going off while you say your vows, which could be distracting. Guests are also more inclined to get sucked into their apps and/or accidentally leave alerts on, which could detract from what's happening between you and your spouse. At the end of the day, social media at your ceremony is entirely up to you, but this is one facet of the wedding that might work best when it's phone-free.  

    6. Your guests want to know what's allowed and what's not--and it's more than OK to tell them. 
    If you decide to allow social media at your ceremony, include any special rules or requests in a prominent place on your ceremony program, and ask greeters and family members to reiterate those rules as they say hello to guests. Don't worry about offending anyone too much--guests are more worried about doing something that may accidentally upset you! They'll be grateful for the clear guidelines. 

    7. Put up signs at the reception. 
    Create signs indicating your wedding hashtag and the platforms you're encouraging guests to use it on. Place those throughout the party space, perhaps with a few photobooth props by their sides (large sunglasses, mustache sticks, etc). This will encourage guests to take fun, memorable pictures of the night. 

    8. Collect the Memories! 
    Use storify to curate tweets and photos from the wedding in one place (you can also ask a friend or relative to do this). Printstagram takes Instagrams of the day out of phones and onto glossy hard stock, which will be perfect for displaying in your new home. Fleeting as it may be, social media can absolutely provide a more permanent reminder of this important occasion if you know how to work it. 

    8
  • Photo by Anni Cee Photography 

    The “first look” – a pre-ceremony peek between the bride and groom, accompanied by a photo session – is a rapidly growing trend on the wedding scene. Whether to go with this option is a personal decision for each couple, with factors like superstition, tradition and logistics weighing on either side. While it’s not for everyone, most couples who went for it say they don’t regret it. For those on the fence, there are a few major benefits to consider. Here are our three top reasons to do a first look:

    1. It’s an intimate moment
    The first time a bride and groom see one another on their wedding day is a special moment many look forward to and cherish forever afterward. Seeing each other before the ceremony provides a unique opportunity for a couple to share the romantic, exciting and often emotional experience privately. And with a jam-packed itinerary ahead and the hundreds of friends, family members and strangers soon to gather around them, it’s likely to be the only alone time they’ll get on their big day. When the whirlwind is over, most couples say they’re glad they took the chance to enjoy a special, intimate moment with just the two of them.

    2. It makes sense from a scheduling perspective
    One of the biggest benefits of opting for a first look is there’s no need to squeeze a rushed photo shoot between the ceremony and reception. Capturing nice images of the bride and groom and their family members, bridesmaids and groomsmen in various combinations takes time, and cramming the process into a 15 minute time slot could mean a lesser quality result. Taking these photos beforehand gives the photographer ample time to get plenty of beautiful, creative shots. Everyone will be more relaxed (key to looking great in photos!), the ladies’ hair and makeup will be fresh, and the couple will be left with a much wider selection of portraits to choose from in the end. Plus, guests won’t be stuck in that awkward post-ceremony lull waiting around for the party to begin! Win, win.

    3. It calms pre-ceremony nerves
    Needless to say, experiencing any major life-changing moment before hundreds of eyes can be nerve-wracking. An overwhelming majority of couples who opted for a first look say that seeing their spouse-to-be before the ceremony had a dramatic calming effect. Going into the ceremony at ease and collected allows the bride and groom to be completely present in the moment and enjoy every second of it. After all, a wedding is meant to be enjoyed by everyone, especially the guests of honor! 

    3
  • 1. Boutique Farm Experience 

    Photo by: Shelly Kroeger

    It doesn't get more idyllic than Northern California's organic Bear Flag Farm. Hosting a limited number of events each year, this hidden gem is known for its breathtaking vineyards, lavendar fields, orchards, and unique farm to table dining. It's extraordinary to find a property that offers so much, wrapped up in an exclusive, boutique farm and winery experience.

    2. Trendy Art Gallery

    Photo by: Abby Jiu

    Marrying admist the deconstructed walls, amazing lighting, and the beauty of modern art at the Long View Gallery in D.C. is surely a contemporary couple's dream. This list wouldn't be complete without a venue that's the epitome of urban culture. 

    3. Artisan Ballroom

    Photo by: Stella Alesi Photography

    Let us count the ways we love Barr Mansion. First - it's green green green (certified organic) which is a big bonus in our book. You can also find both a dreamy Southern mansion and a rustic artisan ballroom with floor to ceiling windows housed on this beautiful Austin property. 

    4. Creative Museum Space 

    Photo by: Photographs by Anjuli

    The New Children's Museum is a spot we adore for Southern California creatives who are looking for a venue that is everything they are: clever, trendy, playful and fun! The wide open space and contemporary decor make it smart without being a tiny but stuffy. 

    5. East Coast Escape 

    Photo by: Patricia Lyons

    A tranquil oasis of vineyard, farm, barn, and winery, all with gorgeous valley views, is nestled just outside of Charlottesville at Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards. One look at the luxe, rustic setting, and we're swept away by the serenity and romance of this East Coast escape. 

    6. Rustic Urban Sanctuary

    Photo by: Braedon Photography

    Set right in the center of bustling L.A., Marvimon is an urban sanctuary with super-hip style, a fabulous layout, and sweet amenities. How fabulous would it be to marry in their vertical garden-embellished courtyard, then transition to the bistro and grand hall for cocktails and dinner?

    7. A Southern Plantation

    Photo by: Mint Photography

    For the couple whose hearts are rooted in the South, we recommend a ceremony and reception at a sprawling plantation. Kendall Plantation in Texas Hill Country is a winner for classic Antebellum-style architecture and old-fashioned Southern charm! 

    8. New York Night Club

    Photo by: Robert Sukrachand

    Who ever said you coudn't have a wedding at a night club! The Brooklyn-based Bell House is an old warehouse-turned concert venue, and a super unique place to plan a less-than-conventional city wedding in style.

    9. Tropical Ruins 

    Photo by: Anna Kim Photography

    If marrying admist the lush tropical overgrowth (and chandeliers)! of a transformed sugar mill in Maui hadn't crossed your mind, let us plant the seed. Hawaii's Haiku Mill is utterly breathtaking and completely unforgettable. 

    10. Sophisticated Cafe Seating 

    Photo by: Andrew Collings

    A summer wedding at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago is made even more magical by the sophisticated and majestic setting at the zoo's Cafe Brauer. It's an architectural marvel! 

    1
  • 9 cute and creative ways to serve your cocktails -- Cheers! 

     

    Photo by: Michelle Warren

    Water infused with mint, cucumber, and lemon -- sounds delish! 

    Photo by: Love Life Images

    Rosemary lemonade and peach iced tea displayed in an antique white cabinet -- does an outdoor reception get any more chic than this?

    Photo by: M. Norwood Photogrpahy

    Does it get more refreshing than classic lemonade in the summer?

    Photo by: Anjuli

    Going for more of an indie, DIY vibe? Store your spirits in vintage crates.

    Photo by: Hudson Nichols Photography

    We love how Jessica and Matt repurposed an old cabinet to hold their beverage supplies.

    Photo by: Karen Wise 

    Serve big batch punches in wide mouth jars. Don't forget the ladles! 

    Photo by: Neuschafer Photography

    Don't think we'll ever get tired of mason jar mugs and striped straws.

    Photo by: Jordan Ferney 

    A rainbow display of old fashioned sodas instantly doubles as reception favors. 

    Photo by: Katelyn James Photography

    Mini chalkboards and log displays are the perfect finishing touches for a rustic beverage station. 

     

     

    16
  • 1. The First Look 

    Photo  by: Gideon Photography

    You'll never want to forget the first time you see each other on your wedding day -- take some time before your ceremony to document this special moment. 

    2. The Classic Portrait 

    Photo by: Jillian Mitchell Photography

    Face-on, big smiles, slightly leaning in to each other. Predictable, but this photo will likely end up on your office desk (or displayed in your parent's home). 

    3. The First Kiss

    Photo by: Lindsey Gomes

    Whether it's long and passionate or a quick peck (we're not judging either way!), the first kiss after your vows is an important one. Make sure your photographer is set up for a clear view. 

    4. The Signature Location Shot

    Photo by: Gerber + Scarpelli

    Getting married in a city? Or what about your hometown? Wherever you say 'I Do', there's a bound to be a spot nearby that's especially telling of your location. Find it and strike a pose -- we guarantee you'll be grateful for the context later.

    5. A Quiet Moment

    Photo by: Ulmer Studios

    We know, we know -- the pressure's on to look perfect in your wedding pictures, and that can be hard if you tend to clam up in front of the cameras. If you're feeling nervous, take a tip from Heather and Tyler: close your eyes, take a deep breath, and lean in close to the person you love. You'll wind up with a gorgeous portrait you'll cherish for years to come! 

    6. A Laugh-Out-Loud Moment

    Photo by: Paper Antler

    The number one thing you'll (hopefully) remember about your wedding? How much fun you had. With any luck, your photographer will capture that sentiment in your smiles.

    7. The Prop Shot

    Photo by: Clary Photo

    Weddings these days are all about showcasing your personality as a couple, so why not do it with props? We've got a soft spot for oversize inititals, but holding up a large ampersand (&) works, too. 

    8. The First Dance 

    Photo by: Davis Photography

    Sure, you may not grace another dance floor this formally again in your life, but that doesn't make this more traditional moment any less sentimental. 

    9. The Cake Cutting 

    Photo by: Amelia Lyon Photography

    Be sure at least one picture exists of the moments before you stuff it into each other's mouths.

    10. The Faraway Shot

    Photo by: Max Wanger

    A Max Wanger signature, this long-distance portrait will remind you just how big the world is that you're about to take on together.

    11. The Send-Off Shot 

    Photo by: Annabella Charles Photography

    Sparklers, bubbles, confetti -- there's plenty of possibilities when it comes to spicing up a wedding exit! 

    8

  • Photo by This Modern Romance

     

    We've all been there. You're at an event, wedding or otherwise, and are just plain uncomfortable. Too hot (or cold), strange food, long line for the restroom. You always vowed you'd do things differently at your wedding - and now's your chance. Here's our guide to how to make sure your wedding is memorable for the right reasons.

    Think About Your Venue When you’re venue hunting, make sure that you keep your wedding guests’ comfort in mind. Will there be enough room to give your guests breathing room? Is there accessibility for handicapped or elderly guests? What is the climate control and restroom situation? Instead of just picking a venue for its beauty, think about it as though you were a guest.

    Give Advance Notice Make sure to give your wedding guests plenty of notice when it comes to your wedding so they can plan accordingly. Save-the-dates should be sent a year in advance if you’re planning a destination wedding in a far-off locale. Six months in advance should suffice for a hometown or local wedding. And invitations should be sent out six to eight weeks in advance of your wedding. Also, make sure that you have a wedding website to provide additional updates.

    Make Travel and Accommodations Easy Speaking of your wedding website, use that platform as an easy-to-navigate home base for all of your travel and accommodation information (if there are older guests who aren’t internet savvy, call them yourself or have another relative do so to keep them informed). Reserve a block of rooms at a local hotel or two, so there’s no question about where out-of-towners should stay. Direct them to airlines, train stations, and public transportation routes that will assist them on their journey.

    Don’t Over-Ask Your guests want to come to your wedding to see you get married – so don’t make it difficult for them. There’s no need to ask them to wear something super-specific, bring a specific type of gift, or pay for their plate.  

    Welcome Them in Style Whether you’re hosting many out-of-town wedding guests or just a few, make sure they feel welcomed when they arrive to their lodging. Creating a welcome basket with ample drinks and snacks is great, but even just a kind and gracious handwritten note will suffice.

    Keep Them Comfortable If you’re hosting an outdoor wedding, provide shawls or blankets if it’s chilly out and give guests fans and cold drinks if it’s super hot. And if the weather is extremely hot, cold, or just plain inclement, move the ceremony indoors. While you might not have the outdoor ceremony you expected, your guests will thank you.

    Strategize Table Assignments Be sure to seat your guests at the tables where they’ll feel most comfortable. For example, put groups of people who know each other together whether they’re in couples or single. And while it’s okay to mix single people and couples, try to avoid seating one or two single person at a table full of couples. And think table placement as well – don’t seat elderly guests right next to the band or DJ.

    Feed Them Well Make sure there’s plenty of food and drink for all to enjoy – and consider your guests who may have dietary restrictions or concerns. Most caterers can handle vegetarian, gluten-free, or other requests, so try to honor those whenever possible.

    Get Everyone Home Safely You don’t have to provide transportation for your guests, but it’s sure a nice gesture. The goal here to avoid guests drinking and driving, so while having a shuttle bus or van bring guests to the wedding and back to their hotel is your best bet, even just providing a phone number for a taxi company in the welcome bags is appreciated.


    Photo by Nancy Aidee Photography

    9

  • Photo by IQphoto Studio

    This may be one of the biggest wedding etiquette stumpers you’ll encounter during your wedding planning experience: How do you determine which of your guests get to bring a plus-one and which do not?

    Married or engaged guests or those in a long-term, committed relationship should always be invited together – even if you have never met the spouse or partner. For those guests who are unattached or casually dating, it’s your call. You could nix any plus-ones for your single guests, or you may decide to allow your single wedding party members to bring plus-ones, but no one else. Or you could invite all of your single guests with plus-ones. The most important thing is to make a rule and stand your ground – no exceptions. And be prepared to explain your reasoning in case a guest asks you to bend the rules “just this once.”  

    If you’re having trouble deciding whether or not to allow your single friends to bring a plus-one, it may be worth considering the rest of your guest list – if you’re inviting many couples and there are only a few single guests, you may want to consider inviting them with an “and guest” – they’ll appreciate having the option. But if you have budget or venue capacity constraints, you certainly do not have to invite plus-ones.

    3
  • Photos (clockwise from top left): Jessica Lorren Organic Photography, Jennifer Kloss Photography, White Loft Studio, Katie Osgood Photography, The Nichols, Sarah Hasstedt Photography

    Need inspiration for a winter wedding? A few of our editors share their favorites below:

    From the Fashion Editor – Accessorize your wedding gown with a fur bolero jacket and your bridesmaids’ dresses with pashmina shawls. Don’t forget a pair of red stiletto pumps.

    From the Flowers Editor – Bouquets of evergreens, poinsettias, roses, amaryllis, and stephanotis are a must-have. Maybe hang some mistletoe too? Check out more winter bouquets here.

    From the Decor Editor – Fill your centerpiece vases with holly berries and surround with candles to create ambiance.

    From the Favors Editor – Warm chocolate chip cookies and a cold glass of milk, gingerbread cookies, sugar cookies, gumdrops, miniature pine trees, you’ll be making your guests spirits merry and bright.

    0
  • Do you want your wedding exit to be as dramatic as your entrance? Don't bore your guests with the traditional throwing of the petals, instead try one of these stylish ideas:

    1. Sparklers 

    Photo by Anabella Charles Photography

    2. Getaway Car 

    Photo by Katelyn James Photography

    3. Bubbles

    Photo by 22 Photography

    4. Motorcycle

    Photo by Tim Harman Photography

    5. Confetti

    Photo by K & S Photo

     

     

    2
  • Once you have finally booked your venue, its time to pick your color scheme! You may think the colors are completely up to you; however, you should take into account the setting of your venue, the time of year your wedding is taking place and how formal or informal your ceremony and reception will be. Remember, not only do you want your color scheme to set the vibe for your wedding but also complement the venue. Here are our favorite color scheme combinations to inspire you: 

    Historic Home = Yellow + Gray

    Photo by Onelove Photography

    Garden = Mint + Blush

    Photo by Stacey Windsor Photography

    Ballroom = Ivory + White 

    Photo by Lane Dittoe 

    Beach = Navy Blue + Emerald 

    Photo by Katie Stoops Photography

    Barn = Purple + Orange 

    Photo by Dave Richards Photography

    Which color scheme did you choose? Let us know in the comments below! For more color scheme inspiration, browse our real wedding boards. 

    6
  • Photo by Jackie Cooper Photography

    Lots of questions swirl around what's OK and what's not when it comes to documenting a wedding via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. While experts will disagree up and down the line about what's appropriate for guests, at the end of the day it's ultimately up to the bride and groom. If you're in favor of live documentation, here's a few helpful tips for making the most of it. 

    1. Pick a #hashtag. 
    Twitter, Instagram, and now Facebook all use phrases proceeded by the "#" sign to group designated thoughts together in a consecutive stream. Pick something easy to remember, such as #DZWedding or #SmithPartyof2, and stick with the same one for all events surrounding your wedding. 

    2. Share that hashtag with your guests—just don't do it too early. 
    Sending out Save-the-Dates and then actual invitations is very exciting, but these are not the places to share your wedding hashtag (leave those for the most pertinent information). It is fine, however, to share your hashtag on your wedding website as it gets closer to your actual ceremony. Guests will be logging on for last-minute gift registry, directions, and other information, and this will get them excited to share snaps and thoughts from the day when it actually arrives.  

    3. Consider your platforms. 
    Users generally have a larger following on Twitter, but those followers are more likely to be professional, personal interest, or internet-only connections. Facebook circles are generally smaller, but your photos will more likely be seen by people who may be hurt they were not invited to the wedding. Instagram is the most private of the platforms, with people mostly following real life friends. If you're concerned about privacy, you may want to (politely) request that guests refrain from posting on a particular platform. 

    4. Wedding weekend has arrived! Now's the time to remind everyone of your hashtag. 
    Have a bunch of guests staying at one hotel? Include your hashtag on any welcome notes you leave in their rooms. When it comes time for the actual wedding, instruct greeters and members of the wedding party  to spread the word as guests arrive. You can also put include it at the top of your ceremony program. 

    5. But wait—do you really want phones out at the ceremony? 
    Think carefully about encouraging social media at your actual ceremony. Sure, it will be wonderful to see photos from the very moment you say 'I Do', but you also run the risk of amateur photographers accidentally blocking the shots of your professional ones. Having a night ceremony? There may be multiple flashes going off while you say your vows, which could be distracting. Guests are also more inclined to get sucked into their apps and/or accidentally leave alerts on, which could detract from what's happening between you and your spouse. At the end of the day, social media at your ceremony is entirely up to you, but this is one facet of the wedding that might work best when it's phone-free.  

    6. Your guests want to know what's allowed and what's not--and it's more than OK to tell them. 
    If you decide to allow social media at your ceremony, include any special rules or requests in a prominent place on your ceremony program, and ask greeters and family members to reiterate those rules as they say hello to guests. Don't worry about offending anyone too much--guests are more worried about doing something that may accidentally upset you! They'll be grateful for the clear guidelines. 

    7. Put up signs at the reception. 
    Create signs indicating your wedding hashtag and the platforms you're encouraging guests to use it on. Place those throughout the party space, perhaps with a few photobooth props by their sides (large sunglasses, mustache sticks, etc). This will encourage guests to take fun, memorable pictures of the night. 

    8. Collect the Memories! 
    Use storify to curate tweets and photos from the wedding in one place (you can also ask a friend or relative to do this). Printstagram takes Instagrams of the day out of phones and onto glossy hard stock, which will be perfect for displaying in your new home. Fleeting as it may be, social media can absolutely provide a more permanent reminder of this important occasion if you know how to work it. 

    8
  • Photo by Anni Cee Photography 

    The “first look” – a pre-ceremony peek between the bride and groom, accompanied by a photo session – is a rapidly growing trend on the wedding scene. Whether to go with this option is a personal decision for each couple, with factors like superstition, tradition and logistics weighing on either side. While it’s not for everyone, most couples who went for it say they don’t regret it. For those on the fence, there are a few major benefits to consider. Here are our three top reasons to do a first look:

    1. It’s an intimate moment
    The first time a bride and groom see one another on their wedding day is a special moment many look forward to and cherish forever afterward. Seeing each other before the ceremony provides a unique opportunity for a couple to share the romantic, exciting and often emotional experience privately. And with a jam-packed itinerary ahead and the hundreds of friends, family members and strangers soon to gather around them, it’s likely to be the only alone time they’ll get on their big day. When the whirlwind is over, most couples say they’re glad they took the chance to enjoy a special, intimate moment with just the two of them.

    2. It makes sense from a scheduling perspective
    One of the biggest benefits of opting for a first look is there’s no need to squeeze a rushed photo shoot between the ceremony and reception. Capturing nice images of the bride and groom and their family members, bridesmaids and groomsmen in various combinations takes time, and cramming the process into a 15 minute time slot could mean a lesser quality result. Taking these photos beforehand gives the photographer ample time to get plenty of beautiful, creative shots. Everyone will be more relaxed (key to looking great in photos!), the ladies’ hair and makeup will be fresh, and the couple will be left with a much wider selection of portraits to choose from in the end. Plus, guests won’t be stuck in that awkward post-ceremony lull waiting around for the party to begin! Win, win.

    3. It calms pre-ceremony nerves
    Needless to say, experiencing any major life-changing moment before hundreds of eyes can be nerve-wracking. An overwhelming majority of couples who opted for a first look say that seeing their spouse-to-be before the ceremony had a dramatic calming effect. Going into the ceremony at ease and collected allows the bride and groom to be completely present in the moment and enjoy every second of it. After all, a wedding is meant to be enjoyed by everyone, especially the guests of honor! 

    3
  • 1. Boutique Farm Experience 

    Photo by: Shelly Kroeger

    It doesn't get more idyllic than Northern California's organic Bear Flag Farm. Hosting a limited number of events each year, this hidden gem is known for its breathtaking vineyards, lavendar fields, orchards, and unique farm to table dining. It's extraordinary to find a property that offers so much, wrapped up in an exclusive, boutique farm and winery experience.

    2. Trendy Art Gallery

    Photo by: Abby Jiu

    Marrying admist the deconstructed walls, amazing lighting, and the beauty of modern art at the Long View Gallery in D.C. is surely a contemporary couple's dream. This list wouldn't be complete without a venue that's the epitome of urban culture. 

    3. Artisan Ballroom

    Photo by: Stella Alesi Photography

    Let us count the ways we love Barr Mansion. First - it's green green green (certified organic) which is a big bonus in our book. You can also find both a dreamy Southern mansion and a rustic artisan ballroom with floor to ceiling windows housed on this beautiful Austin property. 

    4. Creative Museum Space 

    Photo by: Photographs by Anjuli

    The New Children's Museum is a spot we adore for Southern California creatives who are looking for a venue that is everything they are: clever, trendy, playful and fun! The wide open space and contemporary decor make it smart without being a tiny but stuffy. 

    5. East Coast Escape 

    Photo by: Patricia Lyons

    A tranquil oasis of vineyard, farm, barn, and winery, all with gorgeous valley views, is nestled just outside of Charlottesville at Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards. One look at the luxe, rustic setting, and we're swept away by the serenity and romance of this East Coast escape. 

    6. Rustic Urban Sanctuary

    Photo by: Braedon Photography

    Set right in the center of bustling L.A., Marvimon is an urban sanctuary with super-hip style, a fabulous layout, and sweet amenities. How fabulous would it be to marry in their vertical garden-embellished courtyard, then transition to the bistro and grand hall for cocktails and dinner?

    7. A Southern Plantation

    Photo by: Mint Photography

    For the couple whose hearts are rooted in the South, we recommend a ceremony and reception at a sprawling plantation. Kendall Plantation in Texas Hill Country is a winner for classic Antebellum-style architecture and old-fashioned Southern charm! 

    8. New York Night Club

    Photo by: Robert Sukrachand

    Who ever said you coudn't have a wedding at a night club! The Brooklyn-based Bell House is an old warehouse-turned concert venue, and a super unique place to plan a less-than-conventional city wedding in style.

    9. Tropical Ruins 

    Photo by: Anna Kim Photography

    If marrying admist the lush tropical overgrowth (and chandeliers)! of a transformed sugar mill in Maui hadn't crossed your mind, let us plant the seed. Hawaii's Haiku Mill is utterly breathtaking and completely unforgettable. 

    10. Sophisticated Cafe Seating 

    Photo by: Andrew Collings

    A summer wedding at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago is made even more magical by the sophisticated and majestic setting at the zoo's Cafe Brauer. It's an architectural marvel! 

    1
  • 9 cute and creative ways to serve your cocktails -- Cheers! 

     

    Photo by: Michelle Warren

    Water infused with mint, cucumber, and lemon -- sounds delish! 

    Photo by: Love Life Images

    Rosemary lemonade and peach iced tea displayed in an antique white cabinet -- does an outdoor reception get any more chic than this?

    Photo by: M. Norwood Photogrpahy

    Does it get more refreshing than classic lemonade in the summer?

    Photo by: Anjuli

    Going for more of an indie, DIY vibe? Store your spirits in vintage crates.

    Photo by: Hudson Nichols Photography

    We love how Jessica and Matt repurposed an old cabinet to hold their beverage supplies.

    Photo by: Karen Wise 

    Serve big batch punches in wide mouth jars. Don't forget the ladles! 

    Photo by: Neuschafer Photography

    Don't think we'll ever get tired of mason jar mugs and striped straws.

    Photo by: Jordan Ferney 

    A rainbow display of old fashioned sodas instantly doubles as reception favors. 

    Photo by: Katelyn James Photography

    Mini chalkboards and log displays are the perfect finishing touches for a rustic beverage station. 

     

     

    16
  • 1. The First Look 

    Photo  by: Gideon Photography

    You'll never want to forget the first time you see each other on your wedding day -- take some time before your ceremony to document this special moment. 

    2. The Classic Portrait 

    Photo by: Jillian Mitchell Photography

    Face-on, big smiles, slightly leaning in to each other. Predictable, but this photo will likely end up on your office desk (or displayed in your parent's home). 

    3. The First Kiss

    Photo by: Lindsey Gomes

    Whether it's long and passionate or a quick peck (we're not judging either way!), the first kiss after your vows is an important one. Make sure your photographer is set up for a clear view. 

    4. The Signature Location Shot

    Photo by: Gerber + Scarpelli

    Getting married in a city? Or what about your hometown? Wherever you say 'I Do', there's a bound to be a spot nearby that's especially telling of your location. Find it and strike a pose -- we guarantee you'll be grateful for the context later.

    5. A Quiet Moment

    Photo by: Ulmer Studios

    We know, we know -- the pressure's on to look perfect in your wedding pictures, and that can be hard if you tend to clam up in front of the cameras. If you're feeling nervous, take a tip from Heather and Tyler: close your eyes, take a deep breath, and lean in close to the person you love. You'll wind up with a gorgeous portrait you'll cherish for years to come! 

    6. A Laugh-Out-Loud Moment

    Photo by: Paper Antler

    The number one thing you'll (hopefully) remember about your wedding? How much fun you had. With any luck, your photographer will capture that sentiment in your smiles.

    7. The Prop Shot

    Photo by: Clary Photo

    Weddings these days are all about showcasing your personality as a couple, so why not do it with props? We've got a soft spot for oversize inititals, but holding up a large ampersand (&) works, too. 

    8. The First Dance 

    Photo by: Davis Photography

    Sure, you may not grace another dance floor this formally again in your life, but that doesn't make this more traditional moment any less sentimental. 

    9. The Cake Cutting 

    Photo by: Amelia Lyon Photography

    Be sure at least one picture exists of the moments before you stuff it into each other's mouths.

    10. The Faraway Shot

    Photo by: Max Wanger

    A Max Wanger signature, this long-distance portrait will remind you just how big the world is that you're about to take on together.

    11. The Send-Off Shot 

    Photo by: Annabella Charles Photography

    Sparklers, bubbles, confetti -- there's plenty of possibilities when it comes to spicing up a wedding exit! 

    8

  • Photo by This Modern Romance

     

    We've all been there. You're at an event, wedding or otherwise, and are just plain uncomfortable. Too hot (or cold), strange food, long line for the restroom. You always vowed you'd do things differently at your wedding - and now's your chance. Here's our guide to how to make sure your wedding is memorable for the right reasons.

    Think About Your Venue When you’re venue hunting, make sure that you keep your wedding guests’ comfort in mind. Will there be enough room to give your guests breathing room? Is there accessibility for handicapped or elderly guests? What is the climate control and restroom situation? Instead of just picking a venue for its beauty, think about it as though you were a guest.

    Give Advance Notice Make sure to give your wedding guests plenty of notice when it comes to your wedding so they can plan accordingly. Save-the-dates should be sent a year in advance if you’re planning a destination wedding in a far-off locale. Six months in advance should suffice for a hometown or local wedding. And invitations should be sent out six to eight weeks in advance of your wedding. Also, make sure that you have a wedding website to provide additional updates.

    Make Travel and Accommodations Easy Speaking of your wedding website, use that platform as an easy-to-navigate home base for all of your travel and accommodation information (if there are older guests who aren’t internet savvy, call them yourself or have another relative do so to keep them informed). Reserve a block of rooms at a local hotel or two, so there’s no question about where out-of-towners should stay. Direct them to airlines, train stations, and public transportation routes that will assist them on their journey.

    Don’t Over-Ask Your guests want to come to your wedding to see you get married – so don’t make it difficult for them. There’s no need to ask them to wear something super-specific, bring a specific type of gift, or pay for their plate.  

    Welcome Them in Style Whether you’re hosting many out-of-town wedding guests or just a few, make sure they feel welcomed when they arrive to their lodging. Creating a welcome basket with ample drinks and snacks is great, but even just a kind and gracious handwritten note will suffice.

    Keep Them Comfortable If you’re hosting an outdoor wedding, provide shawls or blankets if it’s chilly out and give guests fans and cold drinks if it’s super hot. And if the weather is extremely hot, cold, or just plain inclement, move the ceremony indoors. While you might not have the outdoor ceremony you expected, your guests will thank you.

    Strategize Table Assignments Be sure to seat your guests at the tables where they’ll feel most comfortable. For example, put groups of people who know each other together whether they’re in couples or single. And while it’s okay to mix single people and couples, try to avoid seating one or two single person at a table full of couples. And think table placement as well – don’t seat elderly guests right next to the band or DJ.

    Feed Them Well Make sure there’s plenty of food and drink for all to enjoy – and consider your guests who may have dietary restrictions or concerns. Most caterers can handle vegetarian, gluten-free, or other requests, so try to honor those whenever possible.

    Get Everyone Home Safely You don’t have to provide transportation for your guests, but it’s sure a nice gesture. The goal here to avoid guests drinking and driving, so while having a shuttle bus or van bring guests to the wedding and back to their hotel is your best bet, even just providing a phone number for a taxi company in the welcome bags is appreciated.


    Photo by Nancy Aidee Photography

    9

  • Photo by IQphoto Studio

    This may be one of the biggest wedding etiquette stumpers you’ll encounter during your wedding planning experience: How do you determine which of your guests get to bring a plus-one and which do not?

    Married or engaged guests or those in a long-term, committed relationship should always be invited together – even if you have never met the spouse or partner. For those guests who are unattached or casually dating, it’s your call. You could nix any plus-ones for your single guests, or you may decide to allow your single wedding party members to bring plus-ones, but no one else. Or you could invite all of your single guests with plus-ones. The most important thing is to make a rule and stand your ground – no exceptions. And be prepared to explain your reasoning in case a guest asks you to bend the rules “just this once.”  

    If you’re having trouble deciding whether or not to allow your single friends to bring a plus-one, it may be worth considering the rest of your guest list – if you’re inviting many couples and there are only a few single guests, you may want to consider inviting them with an “and guest” – they’ll appreciate having the option. But if you have budget or venue capacity constraints, you certainly do not have to invite plus-ones.

    3

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