Crystal's Clear View
I was watching a television show recently where one person asked the other, "how is your day?" That person was complaining that it was Monday and they didn't want to be at work, didn't want to get out of bed, had too much to do, and the list went one.
The other person, with their upbeat and positive attitude, quickly pointed out, "You have a job, don't you? You have a home, don't you? You have a bed to sleep in, don't you? ... Then life is not so bad."
Many people in this world don't have those things and long for them each day. You see this every day if you travel the city streets.
Having an attitude of gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness.
In a study published by Harvard Health, researchers found that gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity and build strong relationships.
Two psychologists, Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami, have done much of the research on gratitude.
In one study, they asked all participants to write a few sentences each week, focusing on topics.
One group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week. A second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had displeased them.
After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. They also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources negatively.
So, remember to be grateful for all the things in your life, both big and small and even during times of adversity.
It is often challenging times and experiences that prepare us for future opportunities.
Crystal Vandegrift is professional wedding photographer based in Virginia. Her email address is email@example.com
Crystal’s Clear View
Equality for all
On the third Monday in January, America celebrates the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, and for many, this day means a day off. For others, it means taking part in a "day of service" and helping others.
For some, it is a day to remember how Dr. King fought and died for equality.
Some see that Americans have come a long way in equality for all; for others, that justice is still lacking and fought for.
Though we as Americans have come a long way when it comes to equality, there is still work to be done.
Since the 1960s, several laws have been passed to guarantee civil rights and freedoms to Americans; however, there are still groups who are still fighting for their rights day in and day out.
Those groups, including women who are still wagging the war on the pay gap between their male counterparts and people with disabilities, the homeless, those with mental illness, and the LGBTQ community, are still in a fight for equality.
Everyone, no matter their skin color, gender, or financial status or mental capacity, deserves to be accepted and treated with dignity. Think back to a time when you may have not felt accepted. Remember how that felt? Probably not good. Some live with that feeling each day.
You do not have to agree with what a person does or does not do to show them respect. We all deserve respect.
The next time you encounter someone who is "not like you," remember, meeting that person can be a blessing. They could have come into your life to help you or even teach you. Just because someone is different from you does not make them less of a person.
In the end, we are humans and I think King said it best, “People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.”
Crystal Vandegrift is a professional wedding photographer based in Virginia. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Article posted on Brides,com
Let's be honest, discussing budget is probably your least favorite part of wedding planning, and we don't blame you! While there are many areas you can save (think DIY invitations and guest list), the last thing you want to do is sacrifice style and quality when it comes to your wedding dress, and the good news is: you don't have to!
With a stunning assortment of affordable wedding dresses flooding the market, many coming in under $1,000, you'll be sure to find a dress that fits your style and venue. Hoping for intricate beading? No problem. Aiming for a delicate lace overlay? Yes, it’s possible. Prefer a pared-back slip dress? Gorgeous options abound. See what we’re getting at? Affordable bridal gowns do exist, and they’re just as stunning as costlier designer versions.
Here, we’ve curated an edit of the best wedding dresses under $1,000 that we’re certain will suit every price-conscious bride-to-be.
Plunging Back DressBUY ON BHLDN.COMLooking for a modern take on a traditional dress? This instant classic is for you! A high neck provides chic coverage while side mesh panels and an open back add some sultriness.
Sheer Lace Top and SkirtBUY ON NORDSTROMThis sheer top and skirt combo are all about showing some skin in all of the right places. Strategically placed lace paneling showcases some tasteful skin while a simple a-line skirt is the perfect complement to a detailed top.
Ivory Slip DressBUY ON THEREFORMATION.COMYou can never go wrong with a stunning slip dress. It's chic, it's classic and can definitely be worn again long after the wedding. Stay monochromatic with your accessories for a minimalist look or experiment with color to make a bold statement.
If you're a minimalist bride, check out our roundup of the best slip wedding dresses.
Off-the-Shoulder Ball GownBUY ON DAVIDSBRIDAL.COMA classic ballgown like this one will never go out of style and most importantly, it will remain timeless in wedding photos. Try pairing this gown with a cathedral length veil for even more added drama.
Check out these stunning veils from Etsy!
Off-The-Shoulder DressBUY ON BHLDN.COMIt doesn't get any more elegant than this classic off-the-shoulder silhouette. The crisscrossed bodice is supremely flattering and sophisticated. Wear your hair up to showcase your shoulders and neckline.
Customizable Maxi DressBUY ON FAMEANDPARTNERS.COMFor the bride who wants a hand in designing her dress, this customizable dress is for you. With options to line the bodice, remove ruffles, and change the neckline, you have the ability to design a dress that is uniquely you.
Macrame Long DressBUY ON SHOPBOP.COMIf you're having a destination wedding, you need this dress! Nothing says carefree-on-the-beach like crochet and floral eyelet details. Dress this look up with strappy sandals and beachy tresses.
Capelet DressBUY ON ELOQUII.COMCape dresses are trending all over the bridal fashion week runway and for a good reason! This plus size style is sleek, dramatic, and perfect for a city wedding.
Off-The-Shoulder Lace DressBUY ON GRACELOVESLACE.COMThis classic dress was designed to be stunning and comfortable. A thick fold-down panel flatters the shoulders and neckline while beautiful stretch french lace hugs and skims the body.
Empire Waist Twist DressBUY ON SHOWMEYOURMUMU.COMAn empire waist dress is typically one of the most flattering silhouettes out there. The twist on the bodice of this dress draws the eye in and nips you at the waist. A relaxed skirt is easy, comfortable, and stylish.
Floral Lace DressBUY ON WATTERS.COMThe floral details on this dress are totally unique, while the stretchy lace ensures a body-skimming fit. We love this style for a beach or garden wedding.
Check out some of our favorite beach wedding dresses.
Off-The-Shoulder Pouf-Sleeve DressBUY ON MODAOPERANDI.COMThis cotton dress is fashion-forward and supremely flattering. A structured bodice is supporting while carefully placed ruching smoothes the midsection.
One-Shoulder Ruched Silk-Jacquard DressBUY ON NET-A-PORTER.COMWe love a good one shoulder moment, and this look takes the cake. Ruching at the shoulder creates a strong and statuesque silhouette, while subtle floral embroidery woven throughout the silk jacquard adds an element of femininity.
Pleated Plunge Wrap DressBUY ON ASOS.COMChic and effortless, this dress boasts a flattering plunging neckline and a pleated twist at the bodice.
Shoulder Ribbons Dress
BUY ON THEREFORMATION.COMWe love the romantic design of this dress from the feminine shoulder bows to the fitted and slimming bodice to the subtly flared mermaid skirt. This style is perfect for the bride who is looking for a casual but elevated look.
Article posted on Brides.com
You know what they say: timing is everything. And when it comes to wedding planning, this statement certainly couldn't be more true. When exactly should you send those destination wedding invitations out? And how far in advance is it necessary to secure hotel blocks? We break it all down for you here, so hopefully, you can avoid some of the most common timing mistakes brides make while wedding planning.
1. Reaching out to Vendors Too EarlySeriously, it happens. Erica Taylor, co-founder of NYC-based event design and planning company Tinsel & Twine has had "brides" reach out to make inquiries before they're even engaged! Or couples that reach out with a wedding date three years away. "While flattering, it's a bit premature and takes up our time that we could be devoting to other more timely clients," she says.
2. Putting a Deposit Down on a Venue and Hiring Other Key Vendors Prior to Hiring Your PlannerIf you plan on hiring a planner, always consult him or her first before making major wedding decisions, like securing a venue, rentals, and hiring a florist. "Most event design firms also do in-house florals and recommend rental items as part of their contract package so this essentially duplicates efforts (and money spent)," she explains.
What if you could start your honeymoon the moment you get on the plane? Think about a Doha stopover mini-moon en route to your final destination!
3. Procrastinating on Booking Key VendorsWaiting too late to book your vendors, particularly for a high-season wedding, is a common mistake couples make, notes Dezhda "Dee" Gaubert, owner of No Worries Event Planning. If your wedding is in the peak season (for most regions, this is the summertime), and you wait until even six months prior to book a high-quality vendor, you may miss out on the best of the best, she cautions. "This includes DJs, photographers, coordinators, and some florists. "Suppliers that can handle a higher volume, like cake bakers, caterers, and some florists, can be booked closer to the event date, but don't risk it.
Good vendors book up fast!"
4. Booking a Videographer at the Last MinuteRachel Jo Silver, Founder of Love Stories TV, has seen this happen again and again: the bride puts having a wedding videographer under the "optional" column on her to-do list and then panics trying to find someone at the last minute when she realizes it's actually a must-have. In fact, not having a videographer is the number one regret she hears from brides, so take her advice and don't put this one off!
5. Sending out Destination Wedding Invitations Too LateAccording to destination wedding planner Sandy Malone, owner of Weddings in Vieques, destination weddings have entirely different timelines for invitations (and RSVPs) than weddings at home. "Because literally everybody has to travel to get to a destination wedding, you should send out save the dates and travel information as far out as 18 months prior to the big day. Formal invitations can be mailed at the one-year-out mark, and they should still have an RSVP date of eight weeks from the date you mail them." Do not delay sending out your invitations or you'll have trouble planning and budgeting for all of your various events at your wedding destination, she warns.
6. Not Securing Hotel Blocks Early OnWaiting too long to book hotel block accommodations, especially in a major city, is a big no-no, notes wedding planner Marilisa Schachinger of Martel Event. "While it can seem like a simple task to put off until later, if a city is hosting a large conference or sporting event the same weekend as your wedding, they may be completely booked even six-plus months in advance." As soon as your date and venue are confirmed, she suggests locking in hotel blocks at 2-3 hotels to ensure your guests have plenty of options and time to secure their lodging.
7. Focusing on the Small Details FirstSome brides concentrate too much on the "small details" from the get-go and fail to resolve some of the bigger planning elements until too late, says Greg Jenkins, founder of Bravo Productions. "For instance, deciding on napkin rings, wedding colors and linens should come after you've already contracted a venue and caterer."
original article posted on Bride.com
Is there anything quite as magical as a winter wedding? From holiday music to wintery florals, these seasonal wedding details can add warmth and charm to even the frostiest of days. If you're about to deck the halls of your wedding venue for winter nuptials of your own, these merry winter wedding ideas are bound to inspire you.
We've recruited industry experts who have seen every snow-covered scenario to show you how to make your big day a real life winter wonderland. From wearing warm-weather attire—nothing says chic like adding a faux-fur coat to your bridal style—to crafting an outdoor bar to capture the spirit of the season (or should we say spirits!), here's everything you need to know to throw a festive fête worthy of the most magical time of the year.
Unwrap some of the season’s best in holiday and winter wedding decor! Here are 22 of our favorite winter wedding ideas.
“We added warmth to this winter wedding by layering cozy textures like velvet and Pendleton plaid,” says Lynn Easton, founder and creative director of Easton Events. A rich and saturated color palette of green, brown, and auburn were included throughout both the decor and floral details. “Abundant candlelight is paramount to any wintry setting,” Easton adds, “and that glow becomes even more impactful if you are able to light a fireplace in the room!”
“For this New York wedding, we played with both festive and classic styles,” says Danielle Elder, founder of Classic Events, adding that they “merged the two by integrating contemporary and traditional elements.” Although she was getting married at a historic venue, the bride opted for a modern laser-cut dress, an element that paired beautifully with the snow-fallen backdrop of Central Park.
Adorning your tablescape with a seasonal color scheme is one of the best ways to showcase your wedding style. For this fabulous fête, Ashley Sawtelle, owner of Ashley Sawtelle, photographed the use of gold in this couple’s vibrant table display. “The metallic catches your eye and adds an element of shine to your wedding photos,” Sawtelle adds. Opt for gold in your flatware to create detail throughout each place setting.
This is your big day to celebrate your distinctive personality and sense of style. 2020’s most major wedding dress trends are not only dreamy but also incredibly versatile.
“Rebecca chose a long-sleeve gown and a gorgeous fur wrap, perfect for her wedding atop Aspen Mountain,” says Virginia Edelson, principal and founder of Bluebird Productions. “Selecting attire that is still classic but warm enough for the possibility of a chilly day is a key factor to consider when planning a winter wedding,” Edelson adds. If you don’t want to compromise your bridal style for a long sleeve gown, consider a removable item (like a jacket) that can easily be taken off for photos.
“Large blooms and a statement bouquet is not always a feasible option in winter,” says Anna Le Pley Taylor, owner of Anna Le Pley Taylor Flowers, “but taking advantage of the textural winter greens and tiny delicate winter blooms are." For a winter arrangement, consider a pop of color with holly, berries, or soft blooms.
This outdoor reception celebrated the frosted color scheme of winter with an elegant twist. “Charcoal linens, burgundy centerpieces, tall candles, and metallic chargers lent themselves to a stunning tablescape that embodied a California winter,” says Sonia Hopkins, owner and principal event designer at XOXO Bride Events. Hanging twinkle lights helped to create an enchanting atmosphere that could be enjoyed both day and night.
“The holiday season is a great time to get married because everyone is in the holiday spirit already!” says Lisa Ciampi Borrés, sales and production manager at Elan Artists. A fun way to make people feel even more merry is with a group of singers serenading together, or even having guests chiming in to sing along. “One idea that can elevate a holiday wedding experience: a choir, whether this is a flash mob of singers dressed in cocktail/evening attire posing as guests and emerging from the crowd to sing a specific song, or a formal choir with robes performing holiday tunes or contemporary favorites,” she says.
Whimsical and elegant, an outdoor bar encompasses the spirit of the season while highlighting the surrounding winter environment. “Moscow mules were served in copper serving mugs and presented on this festive bar display,” says Charlotte Jenks Lewis, owner of Charlotte Jenks Lewis Photography. “A decorative feature that was seasonal and functional,” she adds, “the bar brought joy to guests and added a playful element to the couple’s day of photos.
“Suspending an evergreen garland as an overhead canopy transforms interiors with a wintry, forest-grown ambiance,” says Halle Heyman, director of events at Haven's Kitchen. This indoor winter ceremony featured an abundance of twinkle lights to complement the overarching greenery. “The aromatics round out the senses, too, as guests experienced the crisp scents of the outdoors in the coziness of a heated, indoor space,” Heyman adds.
“Nothing says winter warmth like a tablescape full of candles,” says Jennifer Zukovsky, co-owner of Fionna Floral. "Not only do they add an aspect of warmth to your table display, but they help to create a softness to your overall environment and design.” Votives of varying height intermixed with simple centerpieces presented an effect that was elegantly playful.
Utilize Your Venue's Decor
PHOTO BY CHRISTIAN OTH STUDIO
When marrying at a hotel or favored venue, often the site itself will be decked out with holiday decorations, an aspect to consider when finalizing day-of ideas. “We definitely emphasized some of the more seasonal decors with added florals and lighting to play up both the setting and the couple’s desired wedding style,” says Kerri-Lynn Orsini Mulhearn, owner of Stella Day Events. “A bonus display of festive elements provided by your venue is an added benefit to hosting an event around the holidays," she adds.
One way to emphasize the seasonal snow aspect of a winter wedding is to opt for an all-white color scheme—sprinkled with the traditional holiday green and red. “We incorporated traditional ‘holiday greens’ into the decor including pine, evergreen, and mistletoe,” says Heather White Sherrill, director of operations at Aster and Park, who also added small pops of red to enhance the holiday feel without taking away from the atmosphere of a winter wonderland. “We used white velvet linens on the tables which were reminiscent of a snowy landscape,” she adds.
This stunning couple was able to integrate seasonal elements into their day of-style while paying homage to their wedding location of New Orleans. “Adding props to the traditional Second Line procession really showcased a festive quality to their photos and day,” says Greer Gattuso, owner of Greer Gattuso. For her winter bridal style, the bride wore a long-sleeve lace gown with a full skirt, a delicate mix of femininity and tradition.
Cassy Anderson, owner of Cassy Rose Events, recalls a winter wedding that utilized the seasonal indoor backdrop provided by the rustic venue. “In this case, a beautiful vintage hearth served as a ceremony backdrop and a cozy focal point throughout the evening,” Anderson says. Adorn your mantel with florals and votives to create another layer of coziness to your design.
If emphasizing an all-white color scheme isn't your thing, doing just the opposite is an interesting alternative. "Just because it's winter doesn't mean you have to opt for all white and muted tones,” says Carrie Wilcox, owner of Carrie Wilcox Floral Design. For this outdoor display, vibrant shades of red complemented the wooden table and the centerpiece’s loose greenery. “Bright colors against the snow will add a breath of fresh air and excitement to your table,” Wilcox adds.
“The use of brown leather for the seating makes you feel the familiar sense of comfort and ease that comes with the colder months,” says Graham Ervin, director of sales at the Cedar Room, when describing this winter wedding in Charleston. “The draped greenery gives the illusion of a forest while the green garland mixed in with apples and other fall fruits brings the feeling of the season inside." If integrating outdoor seating into your design plans, make sure to include plenty of blankets or heat lamps to adjust guests to the colder weather.
For winter hair and makeup, Dani Wagener, owner of Dani Wagener Beauty, encourages a bold red lip to add to a holiday-inspired style. “We chose a deep burgundy for her lip color to give an ‘old Hollywood’ feel which paired amazingly with her stunning Vera Wang gown,” Wagener says. Not only will your color choice stand out against your white gown, but will add an element of glam to your photographs.
Kat Braman, owner of Kat Braman, recalls a Palm Beach wedding that seamlessly tied in the tropical features of its location with the winter season. “This beautiful December wedding at the Breakers stayed true to the characteristics of Florida—as well as the season—with a variety of tropical plants that were painted white to create a winter vibe,” Braman says. The palm trees lent a unique quality to the refined environment.
“This bride wore a striking floral cape by the Law Bridal over her gown for the outdoor shots, an aspect we considered when arranging her bouquet of a similar color scheme,” says Jennifer Haf, owner and designer of Bloom Floral Design. Play up your accessories by correlating them with major parts of your wedding style, including the florals in your bouquet.
“Don’t shy away from an outdoor wedding, even during the cooler winter months,” says Elizabeth Lane of Fearrington Village. “A winter wedding presents the perfect opportunity to throw a festive and cozy affair.” If you don’t want to host your entire event alfresco, consider an outdoor ceremony followed by a cozy indoor reception.
A striking personalized element for your event, calligraphed signage is a lovely option for your winter ceremony or reception. “Wrapped in greenery, this Lucite sign was the perfect model of contemporary charm,” says Sarah Drake, principal planner and co-owner of Cole Drake. Utilize your signage for welcome decor or create a grander display for your seating chart.
Brian Dorsey, owner of Brian Dorsey Studios, suggests “if you're going to get married in the winter, then embrace the winter.” Whether snowy or frosted, Dorsey advises going out into your environment to capture some memorable winter photos. Nothing will capture the essence of your winter day then photos set against your snowy backdrop.
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
Crystal Vandegrift is a wedding photographer covering Virginia, D.C. NC and Maryland.
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What Our Clients Are Saying
Crystal was a great photographer for our wedding! She's definitely LGBT friendly and has some cool rainbow umbrellas to use as props in your pictures - if that's your style. Our friends and family were all very impressed with the number of photos she took and shared with us - and they're all great shots! We would absolutely recommend her to others. - Kelsey and Shannon - Baltimore, Maryland