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In honor of the Veterans’ Day holiday, we wanted to look back at a few of our favorite military real weddings.
Channing and Kellan – Evergreen, CO
A sweet and rustic barn wedding with a breathtaking mountain backdrop!
See more photos from Channing and Kellan’s wedding »
Photo by Joshua McDonald Photography
Sara and Mark – Washington, DC
This couple, who married at an art gallery, drew inspiration for their wedding from their travels in Europe.
See more photos from Sara and Mark’s wedding »
Photo by Abby Jiu Photography
Heather and David – Annapolis, MD
You’ll love this preppy pink and blue wedding, which took place at the United States Naval Academy!
See more photos from Heather and David’s wedding »
Photo by Abby Grace Photography
Meghann and Darren – San Diego, CA
A classic church ceremony, followed by an eclectic and modern reception at an industrial venue
See more photos from Meghann and Darren’s wedding »
Photo by Viera Photographics
Janie and Steve – Gunthrie, OK
So many DIY details in this romantic Oklahoma wedding!
See more photos from Janie and Steve’s wedding »
Photo by Tammy Odell
Follow our Real Weddings Editor for even more beautiful weddings every day!
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:
Photo by Anabella Charles Photography
2. Getaway Car
Photo by Katelyn James Photography
Photo by 22 Photography
Photo by Tim Harman Photography
Photo by K & S Photo
One of the best parts of any wedding reception is the moment when all of your guests hit the dance floor. Add a little personality to your dance floor with one of these tried-and-true tips.
Adding your monogram to your dance floor in the color of your choice makes it uniquely personal – and definitely has a wow factor!
Photo by Jim Kennedy Photographers
Add Lighting Above…
From lanterns to string lights, chandeliers, and more, there are lots of different ways to provide a romantic glow to your dance floor.
Photo by Brio Art by Katie Fears
Gobos are screens that are placed over lights to project a pattern onto a surface (like a dance floor). This can allow for your creativity to run wild – you can project your names, monogram, or a pretty motif onto the floor.
Photos by (from left): Stephen Ludwig Photography, Langdon Photography
Try a Pattern
We love this couple’s floral patterned dance floor – it’s not only unique, but it really ties their reception décor together.
Photo by Skye Blu Photography
Go for the Checkered Look
Instead of the standard wooden dance floor, a black-and-white checkered surface will give your reception a classic, Old Hollywood feel.
Photos by (from left): Anne Robert Photography, Elizabeth Davis Photography
For more great decor ideas, be sure to follow our Decor Editor »
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.
Turns out your smallest guests may be the most difficult to please. If you are hosting little ones at your wedding, check out these ideas for keeping them entertained and happy.
Offer Appropriate Food
Sure, some kids love fancy foie gras and filet mignon – but for more little ones, chicken fingers and mac and cheese will do just fine! Make sure you provide some kid-friendly options for cocktail hour, dinner, and dessert (though we think most sweets will be perfectly acceptable for kids’ palates!).
Photo by Freshly Bold Photography
Give Them Jobs
Whether they’re the flower girl or ring bearer or handing out programs, kids feel important when they have a job to do. Even if it’s something as small as holding your bouquet during the first dance, little ones will feel so special and be more likely to behave themselves if focused on the task at hand.
Photos by (from left): jHenderson Studios, Acqua Photo
Provide Hula Hoops
If your venue has a large outdoor space and you’re hosting a fairly casual affair, offer activities for your youngest guests. When providing games like hula hoops or bubbles, just make sure there are enough for all the kids so no one feels left out!
Photo by Cramer Photo
Play Corn Hole
Corn hole is another fun games that guests young and old will enjoy. We also love that you can decorate the corn hole board in your own wedding colors and style!
Photo by Joshua McDonald Photography
Have a Piñata
Who doesn’t love a piñata? Of course, the kids will flip, but adults will also love the touch of nostalgia.
Photo by Nelly - Photographer
Create a Cute Kids Table
Kids may have difficulty sitting at their table for long stretches but if you provide them with activities like coloring books or small games, they’ll at least be occupied.
Photo by Maiko Media
Try “I Spy”
Another activity for kids’ place settings – an “I Spy”-style game that encourages little ones (or those of any age) to look for various items around the wedding – from the mother-of-the-bride crying to a sparkly diamond. The one who finds all of the items first can win a prize – nothing like a little friendly competition!
Photos (from left) by Julius Photography, Rachel Robertson Photography
Have a Photo Booth
Kids will not only love posing for silly portraits, but trying on different props and costumes is an activity in itself.
Photo by Pasha Belman
Think About Your Music Selection
No, we’re not suggesting that you play “Old MacDonald” or “The Wheels on the Bus,” but lively Top 40 music appeals to younger people, who are often the biggest hits on the dance floor!
Photo by Ian Grant Photography
One Word = Candy
While their parents might not be a fan of the resulting sugar high, one thing is clear – kids love candy. As much as a wedding is already a pretty magical event, offering up candy will make it even more amazing for children!
Photo by Joel Bedford Photography
Check out these cool kids’ table ideas »
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.
Whether your ceremony is long or short, you want your guests to be comfortable during the proceedings. Gift your nearest and dearest with useful items pre-ceremony to make sure this important event is even more memorable and enjoyable.
Your guests will have a lot of questions during the ceremony. Who’s in the bridal party? What types of rituals should I expect? What’s that song? Answer your guests’ questions by providing them with programs – or post a sign that includes all of the pertinent information.
Photo by IQphoto Studio
Something to Drink
In warmer weather, provide your guests with a refreshment either before the ceremony, or if drinks are allowed in your venue, during the event. Bottled water is a good bet, since it’s in a sealable container that’s less likely to spill – and a custom label adds a cute, personal touch.
Photos by (from left): PW Photography, Jason Burns Photography
Fans can be a nice giveaway for indoor or outdoor ceremony in warmer climates. And by printing your ceremony programs on a fan, it will do double duty.
Photo by Aaron Watson Photography
If your outdoor ceremony is under a blazing sun, your guests will appreciate having the extra shade.
Photo by Whittaker Portraits
It’s a good idea to check out your ceremony location at the exact time when you’re planning on getting married. If you’re concerned your guests will be squinting in the sun, sunglasses are a good favor idea.
Photo by Hearts and Horseshoes Photography
Shawls or Blankets
Depending where you’re getting married, there may be a risk of a slight chill in the air during the spring and fall seasons. That doesn’t mean you should avoid an outdoor ceremony entirely, but consider your guests’ comfort by providing them with shawls or blankets to cuddle up with.
Photo by Nelly - Photographer
Place boxes of tissues at the end of every row in case your guests shed some (happy!) tears.
Photo by Hearts and Horseshoes Photography
Something Fun for the Recessional
Whether it’s confetti, ribbon wands, streamers, flower petals, or something completely different, asking your guests to wave or toss something during the recessional can add a fun celebratory element and make for a great photo op!
Photos by (from left): Gideon Photography, Rachel Robertson Photography
Check out more fun favor ideas by following our Favors Editor »
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!
Your wedding doesn’t have to end with the last dance at the reception. Many couples are hosting after-parties to keep the celebration going until the wee hours. Here are a few ideas for after-party celebrations.
Set up an outdoor or indoor lounge so your guests can relax and unwind after the wedding. Make sure the bar is still stocked and offer passed late-night snacks, like sliders and fries, for everyone to enjoy.
Photo by Arnau Dubois Photography
Late-night karaoke is a fun way to entertain your guests. Of course, the newlyweds get first dibs on picking a tune to sing, but then let all of your guests take a turn at the mic. As the night goes on (and the alcohol flows), expect the songs to get sillier and rowdier!
Photo by Whitmeyer Photography
Hit the Bars
Move the party to a favorite local bar or hangout, or, for your guests’ convenience, it may be more appealing to host a post-party function in the bar of the hotel where everyone is staying. If you’re expecting a large group, see if you can book a private space or table in advance.
Photo by June Lion
Food Truck Fiesta
After a long night of partying, your guests will likely be famished. What could be a better surprise than a food truck (or two) to feed your hungry revelers? Whether the trucks offer sweet or savory fare, your guests will certainly be appreciative.
Photo by Joshua McDonald Photography
Gather your guests ‘round a bonfire for a celebratory late-night event. From singing favorite songs to roasting marshmallows, it’s a fitting close to a joyful wedding day.
Photo by John Schlia Photography
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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!