article originally posted on Brides.com
While not for the superstitious, first look wedding photos have been topping the list of wedding must-haves for many couples over the past few years. It's still entirely up to you whether or not you want to uphold the idea of not seeing your soon-to-be spouse until the ceremony, but—if these sweet snapshots are any indication—a first look is a beautiful way to start off your married life.
The instant a couple first locks eyes on their big day is incredibly romantic—whether or not it's done in private before you say "I do," or as you make your grand entrance into the ceremony. But while they may not be a time-honored custom, first look wedding photos have become something of a new tradition amongst modern couples who opt to see one another before the ceremony, resulting in heartwarming, tear-jerking photos.
On the fence about doing a first look? Firstly, seeing your partner before walking down the aisle is a great way to ease any pre-wedding jitters. And if you're concerned about your partner's expression being any less excited when they see you walking down the aisle to exchange vows, don't be. Chances are, your love will still get teary-eyed in the moments before they say "I do." And since they've already seen you in your wedding dress, they can appreciate the crystallizing realization that you two are about to become the two luckiest people in the world even more so.
article originally published by The Knot
Whether you're having an intimate 30-person gathering or a huge bash with 500 guests, you'll need a way to communicate with all of your wedding guests just in case plans go awry.
Perhaps your reception space was double-booked, or you've decided to push your ceremony back an hour to align with the sunset. You don't want to blast out the changes on social media (let's face it—you probably aren't inviting all of your Facebook followers, and your great-uncle Charlie hasn't ever touched a computer). If you want to spread the word—fast—to the right people, having a wedding day communication plan makes everything easier. Here are a few easy-to-follow tips to come up with one.
Think of a concise message your guests will understand quickly.
No need for a lengthy explanation of what happened. Keep your message to guests short and to the point. All they need to know is that plans have changed for some reason or another, and what they should do in the meantime.
Make sure your wedding website is accurate and up to date.
Your wedding website will get tons of views leading up to your wedding, because people misplace invitations or forget to bring them along when they're traveling. Make sure the main page of your site contains any new information guests should know and all addresses and times are accurate.
Assemble a group who can be trusted to start a phone (or text) tree.
You'll want to delegate this kind of a task to a few members from each side of the family, so it spreads evenly and no relatives are left in the dark—especially those who aren't likely to check your wedding website the day of, or ever. You'll also want to assign the task to a few friends on both sides of your wedding party to notify all nonrelatives. Once they start spreading the word via text or calling, and the people who heard from them spread it to everyone they know attending, word of mouth will have taken care of any snafu.
Use this handy trick.
Still worried you missed a couple people in getting the correct info out? No worries. Apart from telling your "How They Met" story and explaining where you're registered, one feature of our wedding website and guest list manager is to email every person on your guest list. You can choose to select guests one by one, depending on their RSVP, or you can select all. Simply add an email subject—something along the lines of "Please Read: Important Last-Minute Update to Our Wedding Schedule!" and write out a message to all your guests telling them of your change in plans. Phew, that was easy! You can also delegate this task to one of your bridesmaids or your parents if you're too busy getting ready or dealing with other last-minute details.
Remember that it's always better to be over-prepared.
The beautiful thing about having this type of plan in place is that it applies to so many last-minute changes. Does it look like rain? Follow the communication plan and let everyone know about your plan B scenario. Is there crazy traffic on one of the main routes to the reception hall? Send out your email. While we hope none of these things happen to you on the day of your celebration, it never hurts to be over-prepared.
Haven't set up your wedding website yet? See our latest designs here, and check out our guest list manager here if you need some help keeping track of your guests.
Wedding Ideas + EtiquetteCommunicationRelationshipsWedding WebsitePlanningGuest ListWedding Party
article originally published by The Knot
There's nothing better than having your parents around to lean on for their planning advice, emotional support and helping hands. While the "mother of bride" job title comes with a certain set of expected duties (which we've laid out for you below), your mom should be whatever source of help you need or that suits her strengths. If she's meticulously organized and loves to take the reigns, let her handle some logistics. Is she more laid back about the nuts and bolts but gifted with an eye for design and aesthetics? Tap her for style decisions and mood board input. You know your mom, and she knows you. For a traditional list of mother of the bride duties, read on.
1. Research and Scout Venues
The mother of the bride often helps the couple check out ceremony and reception sites. Whether she actually accompanies you on site tours or pitches in doing research, calling for quotes or asking friends and family for recommendations, it's up to you how hands on you'd like her to be in the venue hunt.
2. Act as a Point Person for Vendors
You and your partner are only two people (presumably with busy schedules), so the mother of the bride can be helpful by serving as either a main contact or just an extra point person for your wedding pros. This will be a godsend, especially if your wedding is taking place in your home town where she lives while you two live elsewhere.
3. Be Your Wedding Dress Confidante
Depending on how close you are with your mom, enlist her help on all things wedding dress or suit related. Can't bear to make a dress decision without her? Don't. Definitely bring her with you to trunk shows, bridal salons and fittings for her expert eye, good judgement and motherly nod of approval.
4. Take Charge of the Guest List (at Least Partly)
Of course, you and your partner should be the majority vote when it comes to your guest list—but the bride's mom can be super helpful by compiling and sending you all the names and addresses to be included on the master list. In addition, she can connect with your partner's family about who's on their list and manage the tricky task of limiting the number of guests, if necessary.
5. Give Input on the Ceremony Program
The mother of the bride is a great resource to tap for family, cultural or religious traditions to incorporate into the wedding ceremony. If she feels strongly about having you include something in particular—be it an important heirloom or a significant unity ceremony—have her do some research and help you plan the best way to infuse it into the program.
6. Find a Look She Loves
Forget what you've heard about mother of the bride outfits. If she wants guidelines, let her know what you'd love to see her in or what would complement the rest of your wedding details and overall vibe. Other than that, she's free to find a gorgeous gown, suit or other style that makes her look and feel amazing. To be courteous, the mother of the bride should stick to traditional etiquette here: Get in touch with the in-laws to make sure they don't either clash or match exactly (although, if they do, everyone will survive—promise!).
7. Attend or Plan Prewedding Events
It's no longer a faux pas for the bride's side to host the shower (it used to be frowned upon because people thought it made the bride's family look greedy for gifts, but that's pretty much irrelevant now). So if your mom wants to throw you a shower, she absolutely should. The same goes for the engagement party and rehearsal dinner. At the very least, the mother of the bride should attend the shower.
8. Know What to Do and Where to Go at the Ceremony
Your mom can escort you down the aisle herself or with your father. In a Jewish ceremony, both parents often accompany the bride down the aisle. At Christian ceremonies, if the father of bride is processing with the bride, the mother of the bride can take her seat in the first pew directly before the ceremony. You can also make your mom part of the processional lineup, even if your dad is walking you down the aisle. The mother of the bride can process first before the wedding party, or follow the wedding party and come down before you.
9. Stand in the Receiving Line
This only applies if you're having a receiving line, of course. As a reception host, she should head up the line and greet/thank/hug guests as they arrive at the reception (or exit the ceremony).
10. Enjoy the Party
The mother of the bride sits at either parents' table, the head table with the couple or mix in with other immediate family or good friends. Chat with your partner and your parents about how you'd like to seat everyone for dinner. If you're doing a more formal first dance sequence, the mother of the bride typically shares a dance with both the father of the bride and your partner after the newlywed first dance.
11. Be Your Rock
The mother of the bride is just that—your mom. She's a well of wisdom, solid advice and emotional support, and her biggest job throughout the wedding planning process is to be the amazing mom she's been for you all along.
Getting married is a joyous occasion where two souls ceremoniously become one. However, it’s also a time marked by a lot of behind-the-scenes changes — like merging finances or finding a new place to live. While many folks plan for a last name swap, Charlie’s willing to bet that very few think about modifying their insurance coverage post nuptials.
Don’t worry, though. Your favorite penguin’s got everything you need to know to make sure you’re properly protected as a couple.
Let’s take a step back — if you’re already married, this is moot. But if you’re not, it may make sense to insure your big day. Even modest weddings can run you thousands, so a $200ish protection plan sounds like a wise move.
Your engagement and wedding rings are symbols of your enduring love — and likely cost a pretty penny. To protect against loss (no judgement here) or theft, it may make sense to buy some coverage. Often, jewelry insurance gets tacked on to an existing insurance policy, typically homeowners or renters. However, there are some insurers who issue specialty policies designed to safeguard your gems.
While the two of you may already have health insurance, it’s a good idea to reevaluate your policies when you get back from your honeymoon. Since getting married is considered a qualifying life event in the health insurance world, you can make changes outside of open enrollment. Therefore, if one of you has more affordable or more robust coverage options than the other, get with your respective human resources departments and make the switch!
Homeowners or Renters Insurance
If your dwelling isn’t insured yet, it’s prudent to protect your belongings and property that you share as a couple. If you have a mortgage, homeowners insurance is required and can be pricey. But, like anything else, shopping around will get you the best available deal. Renters insurance, while optional, is generally very affordable — so there’s really no reason not to have it.
Although it’s tough to think about, one of you could pass away unexpectedly. To protect your loved ones, it’s a smart move to buy a life insurance policy — or increase the amount of existing coverage. The funds can be used to pay off a mortgage or other debt, care for any dependents, and keep the surviving spouse financially afloat until they get back on their feet.
Your employer may offer life insurance as part of their benefits package. However, it’s important to realize that the coverage will likely end when your employment does and may not be adequate to meet your family’s needs. If either is the case, shop around for external policies to ensure continuous and ample protection.
Pro Tip: Check your beneficiaries on existing policies and update them as needed.
If you’re a two income household, you may want to purchase disability insurance. That way, if one of you becomes unable to work, the coverage can help fill in the income gap, allowing you to focus more on getting well than on being able to pay the bills.
If you’ve both got good driving records, getting on the same policy could save you big. Statistically, married people get into fewer accidents, so the insurer’s reduced risk potentially equates to a reduced rate for you. Don’t forget — if you both have a vehicle, many insurance companies will give you a multi-car discount as well.
When you say “I do”, insurance is probably the farthest thing from your mind. However, it’s now important for you to be protected as a couple, rather than as individuals. Getting your policies in order will give you peace of mind and can also save you money — so don’t delay!
Tell Charlie: Did you make any changes to your insurance when you got married?
original article published by hicharlie.com
As someone who has spent an inordinate amount of brain cells mulling over money, a well-known pillar of financial wellness is that you need to budget.
Here’s the thing: while budgeting is touted by many in the personal finance blogosphere as mission critical to getting your money ducks in a row, they don’t always work. Not for long, anyway. For every budget I’ve tried — the 50/30/20 budget, zero-sum budget, spreadsheet, and envelope system — I would start out gung-ho.
I’d meticulously track every purchase and expense, allocate my income into neat categories, and congratulate myself for creating such a pristine, beautifully put-together budget. It felt like magic, at least at first.
Fast forward to a few months’ time, and I’ve let my budget fall by the wayside. Why’s that? The reasons may stem from a number of reasons: feeling boxed-in from having too specific spending categories, lapsing into a cycle of shame followed by guilt for going over in X category, or from weaning interest.
Nix the traditional budget. Here’s what works instead:
Track Your Expenses
This is pretty essential. It’s hard to figure out a long-lasting approach to saving if you don’t know where your money is going. There’s no shortage of free money management apps out there to help you track your spending. After you have a good idea of how much your living expenses are and anywhere else your money is going, you can create a system.
Create a Money Flow System
Having a system for how you save and spend your money will keep things on autopilot. The less “mind time” and work it takes, the more likely you are to stay within your spending limits. Yes, this takes work. It’s not an overnight thing. But what about Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel frescoes? The Leaning Tower of Pisa? Your favorite craft beer? The good stuff takes time.
As a self-employed freelancer, I have both a business checking account and a personal checking account. At the end of each month, I’ll automatically transfer a set amount into my personal account for basic living expenses.
I mete out “buckets” of cash that are then transferred to two separate debit cards. There’s a set amount for discretionary expenses or things that change every month. (Think eating out, groceries, gas, etc.) I also allocate any extra cash toward my savings goals. For instance, I put set amounts toward emergencies, a splurge fund, and a vacation fund. I also save for a house when I can.
Why so complicated? After I’ve devised a money flow, it’s pretty much set and I can forget about it. I methodically check my balance and monitor transactions, but that’s it.
Automation is a godsend for a lazy money person — no shame. I automate as much as possible: savings goals, bills, and for a buffer fund in case my checking goes to zero. My bills are paid on time, and I make sure I sock some away some of my income towards retirement. If you’re new to automation, make sure you schedule your transfers so they hit a few days before or after you get paid. You’ll also want to keep an eye on things at first, just to make sure there aren’t any hiccups.
Create a Space for Guilt-Free Spending
Just like guilt-free afternoons binge-watching “Russian Doll” on Netflix while noshing on cronuts in your otherwise tame week of salads and cycling classes — you need breathing room to do whatever you please with some of your cash. This will prevent you from going hog wild and splurging. Create a separate savings account for some guilt-free spending. Or allow yourself to spend X of each paycheck on whatever you please. Of course, this is only after you’ve covered your living expenses and savings goals.
Have a Buffer
One of your friends decides to drop in unexpectedly for the weekend and you go on a pricey dinner date and night out. Sure, it’s fun times, but also cry-time for your wallet. You’ll want to have a bit of cushion in your budget for small, unexpected expenses. I like to keep a buffer of a few hundred bucks in my monthly budget, and you may need more or less.
Place Your Money on an Emotional Spectrum
Try putting your entire money situation — earning, spending, saving, and investing — on an emotional spectrum. What I mean by this is to think about the things you spend money on. What do you dislike spending money on?
For instance, maybe making payments on your student loans or credit card debt are things that make you groan or ask, “Whyyy?”
What are you neutral about? That could be utilities, rent, and gas for your car. And last, what types of spending and money goals bring you joy? Perhaps that’s when you get to go out for massages or buy hip clothes, or that subscription box of goodies that you look forward to receiving every month.
When you categorize your money on an emotional spectrum, it’ll help guide you toward what you want to minimize or nix altogether, and what you want to have or do more of. So if you detest paying off debt (which is more than likely) focus on crushing it as soon as possible. On the flipside, if you love investing in art, try to find ways to put more money into those areas of your life.
While budgeting doesn’t always work, creating different systems to make saving and spending as easy and painless as possible, does. What works for me may not work for you. That’s why it’s important to approach it as an experiment. Exploring new ways will help you find a strategy that jives best with you.
original article published by brides.com
This is the moment you've been waiting for. Holy moley, you have an engagement ring and you're getting married! It's so surreal, yet definitely happening, and like it or not, the hours, days, and weeks following that proposal are guaranteed to be a whirlwind.
There are so many things to think about, so many people to contact and so much to get done. Don't be overwhelmed. You have plenty of time to plan the rest of your lives but if you're like most newly engaged people, you'll be itching to share the news with all your friends and dive into the actual wedding planning part headfirst.
Pinterest boards, bridal magazines, blogs, dress shopping, venue hunting...the list goes on and on. Years of watching wedding movies couldn't have prepared you for what's to come (trust us, it's totally different). While the average engagement lasts a year to a year-and-a-half, there are certain things you'll want to get done stat — no matter how long you plan on being a fiancé.
So where do you get started? There's no strict order to follow as long as you tackle the immediate to-dos. Committing the rest of your life to the love of your life is scary and amazing and the best kind of stress, however, it's a major, major milestone, and planning a wedding together is the icing on the cake — we promise!
Call Your Parents
And your siblings and BFFs too (unless you are keeping your engagement under wraps for a while). The last place they should have to hear about your new status is on social media, so give them a ring personally and tell them the happy news. Chances are, mom and dad already know what's up and have been waiting by the phone patiently for your call.
Get a Manicure
Your hands will be in the spotlight for the next couple of weeks, which means your manicure best be on fleek. Or, if you're going for the natural look, make sure your nails are clean and shaped. Otherwise, friends will be focusing more on your chipped nail polish than your gorgeous engagement ring. Not cool.
Post a Ring Selfie
A picture is worth a thousand words, right? If you're ready to share with the world that you're engaged, open up that Instagram! Take a ring selfie or a sweet pic of you and your fiancé to share the love. Even better—if the actual proposal was caught on film, nothing is better than that look of surprise. And don't forget to make it Facebook official!
Round up some of your best friends and family and go out for a celebratory drink, or have a special date night solo if that's more your style. You're engaged, and that's totally worth toasting.
Get Your Ring Insured
We know, we know — it's not exactly the most romantic or exciting thing in the world, but it could wind up saving your butt in the long run. When added as an extension to your homeowner or renter's insurance policy, it's surprisingly inexpensive.
Take A Breather
Don't jump into wedding planning right away! Take a week or two to let the news really sink in and to just savor the moment. Trust us, you'll have enough stress over the next twelve (or so) months to last you a lifetime.
Get Your Ring Sized
If the ring fits, great, and if not, you'll want to take it to your jeweler stat to get it sized — especially if it's practically falling off your finger. After all, you'd hate to throw thousands of dollars down the drain mere moments after saying yes.
Think About A Date
The most desirable wedding dates and venues get booked far in advance so if you're hoping to get hitched in the next year or two, it's a wise idea to start thinking about dates now. Find out what works for both your families and if there are any potential conflicts.
Research Wedding Venues
Remember: You can't book a date until you've nailed down your dream venue! Do some research online first, or maybe you already have a place in mind and can call to get more information on pricing and availability.
Determine Your Wedding Size
Whether you're going big or keeping it small, being on the same page about this one is so important. Get your family's input if it matters to either of you or if they'll be footing the bill. Once you've agreed on a rough guest count and budget (we'll get to that next), you can commit to a venue.
Discuss a Budget
Money talks, but unfortunately, no one likes to talk about money. It can be, well, awkward. However, before you can really move forward with any of your wedding plans, this is a discussion that has to be had, be it between you and your spouse, or you, your spouse, and the parents.
Build A Wedding Website
At the very least, look at your options and decide whether you'd prefer to create your own from scratch or use one of the many wedding website templates out there. Check out the pros and cons, and then pick together.
Create a Pinterest board, Google Doc, save photos on Instagram, or create a folder on your computer to compile imagery of your favorite wedding elements. Keep it to yourself just for organizational purposes, or share with your wedding planner, mom, friends, fiancé, and whoever else to view and contribute.
Choose Who Will Be in the Bridal Party
How many bridesmaids or groomsmen do each of you want? Are you cool with having odd numbers or is an even number a must? Does one of you (or both) want a bridesman or groomslady? Will you have a maid of honor or best man? No matter what, you need to discuss these things before one of you starts popping the question to friends.
Interview Planners and/or Vendors
If you're considering bringing a professional planner on board to help with logistics and décor, ask around for references and do a little online research, then set up some interviews. For the vendor referrals alone, a wedding planner is totally worth their weight in gold! Or, for smaller affairs, go directly to the source and check out a few vendors on your own.
Check Out Trunk Show Schedules
Have your eye on a specific wedding dress designer? You don't have to make a mad dash to try on dresses just yet, however, you may want to peep their trunk show schedule to see when they'll be in town (or where you'd have to travel to) and how much of a discount you can score on the new collection.
Plan An Engagement Party
(If you want one at all.) Do you want to plan it or hand the reins over to parents or friends? Do you want to go low key and have it at your home or in a friend's backyard? Would you rather everyone meet at your favorite bar for drinks or rent a space for a catered dinner? Either way, just make sure to do whatever fits the vibe of your relationship!
Do something fun, just the two of you. Mini golf, bowling, ice skating, a trip to the beach — whatever floats your boat and brings out the kid in you both. Wedding planning can be insanely stressful from the get-go, so try to find the humor in things and take some time to laugh, reconnect, and remember why you're getting hitched in the first place.
August 07, 2019 at 08:34PM
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Crystal Vandegrift is a wedding photographer covering Virginia, D.C. NC and Maryland.
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Pictures were one of my top priorities for my wedding. I spent a lot of time reading through photographers and even contacting some. I was also pretty nervous, I had never been professionally photographed before. Crystal and her team were SO easy to work with and immediately took away the nerves. I trusted her completely and I am so happy I did. Cannot recommend enough! Ellen - Yorktown VA
If you're looking for an amazing photographer who is relaxed, has experience, and knowledge look no further. Crystal took our engagement and wedding photos. Not only were her photos amazing, but she is extremely responsive to messages and will even help you when planning your big day. It was important to us to work with a photographer who has experience with same sex couples, and Crystal and Casey did a great job capturing everything for my wife and I. We couldn't have asked for a better experience. - Emily - Nellysford, VA
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