What a Tangled Web We Weave…A Jersey City Wedding Venue is No More

“O what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”
-Walter Scott-

Those words aren’t exactly the ones that come to mind when you think about a wedding. But this week, there isn’t much else, as a popular Jersey City venue has closed its doors and countless couples have no place to say “I do.” It almost feels like a reality show or something you would see on Netflix…

…..I really wish it was.

Battello Jersey City closes abruptly and leaves couples stranded! Follow the link to read more!
Justin Tinapay Photography

Just last week, Battello, a restaurant in Jersey City, reached out to their private event clients via email from their attorney. This email basically said that the space would be closed on September 15, 2017 with the anticipated reopening date being sometime in April 2018. I covered all of the details in a Huffington Post article which I would urge you to read if the team from Battello’s didn’t flag it to death to have it removed. But they have nothing to hide, hence the harassment on my facebook page from the chef’s wife, the flagging of my comments by their marketing director and the endless “no comments” they gave to reporters yesterday…

Whatever, I will repost it here and they can flag off.

Yesterday, Battello closed its doors at 5pm.

It’s. August.

Imagine being a bride, showing up to your venue 24 hours before your wedding and knowing that your venue won’t even be open in one month’s time. Now imagine hearing that your wedding won’t be happening either…as you drop off your champagne flutes, cake cutter and server.

What are you going to do?

Then there are the couples that probably breathed a sigh of relief knowing that their wedding was before the anticipated closing date of September 15, 2017. They’re out of luck too now.

My phone rang early Thursday afternoon about the couple getting married there the very next day. I reached out to every venue I could think of and every single venue that I reached out to via email called me back in under 5 minutes. All of them.

As I write this, that displaced couple is having their wedding day. For everyone else, I have taken the time to put together a “directory” of other venues as well as vendors that are willing to help out. For that information, scroll to the end.

After I wrote my Huffington Post article covering last weekend’s events, I was contacted by the media and countless couples with planned weddings at Battello.

The stories are intense.

Battello Jersey City closes abruptly and leaves couples stranded! Follow the link to read more!

The couples all seem to have one thing in common: they were not told about the closing of the parking lot and the patio on May 25th. The marketing director for Battello had sent me this letter earlier this week after we discussed the entire situation. But there’s no proof that it was ever sent to the couples. Furthermore, if this letter was sent, then why didn’t any of the couples say anything?

Oh what a tangled web indeed…..

As I mentioned in my Huffington Post article (the one Battello doesn’t want you to see) one of the brides I spoke to was also unaware of this May 25th letter. It was by her own outreach that she found out that the patio and parking lot would be closed. And she didn’t find out until July.

Another couple with a 2017 wedding was also unaware of this May 25th correspondence and spent all of July going back and forth with Battello once they did become aware of the construction on the pier.  This couple had a credit card payment charged just 72 hours before Battello’s attorney emailed everyone letting them know about the September 15, 2017 closure.

The daughter of two immigrants and a veteran of two tours in Afghanistan, is another bride now without a venue. She and her fiancé are praying that Battello doesn’t declare bankruptcy because they haven’t received their refund and their wedding is in 2017.

On a twitter account associated with Battello, there is a job listing for a pastry assistant for a new pastry chef. The date? July 28, 2017.

Who knew what and when?

Who cares?

On May 25th they allegedly sent out a letter to couples about the closure of the parking lot and the patio. No one I have spoken to has seen this letter. I haven’t been provided with proof of receipt. Not one couple pulled from Battello or demanded an explanation when the letter was allegedly sent. However, they did start asking questions when they found out on their own in June and July. One of those questions was whether or not to find a new venue.

So, what should I believe? What should the couples believe?

The pier is not structurally sound and needs to be repaired. If couples were given this information back in May, with the option to walk away losing their deposit or stay and roll the dice, Battello would be absolved from all of this. Just as each couple chose Battello for their wedding venue, they should’ve had a choice here. Battello took that away.

That’s the problem.

It’s not about the pier falling apart or the alleged lack of communication from the landlord to Battello about the impending closure. None of the couples need to hear “we didn’t know either” from higher ups at Battello because it doesn’t fix it. You can’t fix this. Money doesn’t fix this. Time, the time you took away, wouldn’t fix this…but it would’ve helped.

Battello Jersey City closes abruptly and leaves couples stranded! Follow the link to read more!

As a wedding planner, I am usually on the side of the wedding professionals. For so many reasons that are too long and boring to explain, I tend to side with employees over clients. Believe me when I say that I did my due diligence to get their side and review with a fine tooth comb every last document their marketing team sent to me. I was desperate to find something, anything, to give me the ability to argue both sides.

I came up with nothing.

They didn’t handle this well.

When I interviewed with NBC News yesterday , the Battello pier and surrounding area was hostile. I was told, while sitting on a bench not on their pier, by their security guards, not to take pictures or film anything. Meanwhile, countless pictures have been taken in that exact same spot for years.

Reporters had to rely on the Jersey City Police Department, who allowed them to film off the pier but did not push them to the sidewalk. The second the police left, the Battello folks pushed them to the sidewalk. Someone approached me, claiming he was an investor of Battello, and practically went blue in the face insisting that they all were blindsided by this. That everyone is “really sorry for the couples” but they “didn’t know either.”

They still don’t get it and they never will.

“Your reputation is what others think of you, your character is who you really are. Battello lacks both.” – Former Battello Groom

My cell phone is basically a landline now as it has to stay plugged into my charger with all of the calls and messages I am receiving. Couples worry not only about their wedding details, but what will happen if Battello declares bankruptcy. As much as I would love to use direct quotes, every last bride and groom wants their money back first, because they are terrified they won’t see a dime.

The doors are shut, the staff is gone, and the promises of hearing from anyone inside Battello continues to be empty for every couple I have spoken with.

Battello Jersey City closes abruptly and leaves couples stranded! Follow the link to read more!

I was and am still overwhelmed with the support from my industry. The compassion and sense of urgency everyone felt and still feels to help out couples that aren’t even their clients, is amazing. I don’t personally have clients getting married at Battello, but this is what our industry is about.

No one should ever go through this, and below I have listed venues and vendors available to help, as well as contact information. I am putting this together in the hopes that it will be a helpful tool for those searching for a new venue and even new vendors.

From the bottom of my heart, I hope that every last couple will have their wedding day come together and that this will just be a story they can laugh about over holiday gatherings.

…..or one narrated by Morgan Freeman on Netflix.

Venues and Vendors

Please use this list to help you find a new venue and/or new vendors and don’t forget to mention that you are a Battello couple and you found this information on this blog!

Battello Jersey City closes abruptly and leaves couples stranded! Follow the link to read more!

Venues

New York

Breeze Hill Farm, Long Island, Waterfront, 350 guests max, 2017 and 2018 dates available, 917.821.1201, ask for Kathleen

Masterpiece Caterers at India House, 2017 and 2018 dates available, www.masterpiececaterers.com, 914-424-2921, ask for Drane

Houston Hall, downtown Manhattan, 2017 and 2018 dates available, 212-582-2057, ask for Lauren

Mr. Cannon, Manhattan, https://www.southstreetseaport.com/EVENTS/mrcanon.html, reference Marie Assante

Hudson Terrance, Manhattan, http://hudsonterrancenyc.com/private_events/weddings, reference Marie Assante

Sushi Roxx, Manhattan, www.sushiroxxnyc.com, reference Marie Assante

The Attic Rooftop, Manhattan, http://www.theattic-nyc.com, reference Marie Assante

The DL (85 Delancey), Manhattan, www.thedl-nyc.com, reference Marie Assante

The New York Botanical Gardens, contact john.garone@starrcateringgroup.com

New Jersey

Molos, Weehawken, Waterfront, http://molosrestaurant.com/parties, reference Marie Assante

Surf City, Jersey City, www.facebook.com/surfcitybar, reference Marie Assante

Zeppelin Hall, Jersey City, www.zeppelinhall.com, reference Marie Assante

The Farmhouse at The Grand Colonial, Hunterdon County, 2017 and 2018 dates available, 250 guest max, contact Rebecca Ciraco at rciraco@thefarmhousenj.com

The Ryland Inn, White House Station, 2017 and 2018 dates available, contact Lara Nestler at lara@rylandinnnj.com

Fell Stone Manor, Hampton, 2017 and 2018 dates available, contact Heather at events@fellstonemanor.com

The Tides, North Haledon, 2017 and 2018 dates available, contact Tom at Tom@TheTides.com

The Ashford Estate, Allentown, contact Laura at LauraD@merrimakers.com

Maritime Parc, Jersey City, 2017 and 2018 dates available, contact Elizabeth Stacey at estacey@maritimeparc.com

W Hoboken, Hoboken, 2017 and 2018 dates available, contact Meghan Dennin at Meghan.Dennin@whotels.com

Westin Governor Morris, Morristown, 2017 and 2018 dates available, contact Julie Olsen at Julie.Olsen@WestinMorristown.com

Stone House at Stirling Ridge, Warren, 2017 and 2018 dates available contact Carissa at Carissa@StonehouseAtStirlingRidge.com

Connecticut

Club Getaway, Kent, http://www.clubgetaway.com, reference Marie Assante

Pennsylvania

Perelman Quad, Philadelphia, 2017 and 2018 dates available, contact Kate at kathryny@upenn.edu

Battello Jersey City closes abruptly and leaves couples stranded! Follow the link to read more!

Florist

Carroll’s Florist, 718.351.5206, ask for Chad

Band

EBE Talent, contact steve@ebetalent.com

DJ

Paul Anthony Entertainment, contact paul@paulanthony.net

Pure Event Group, contact joe@pureeventgroup.com

Photography

Studio A Images, contact Adena Stevens at adena@studioaimages.com

Timothy Glenn, contact Tim Camuso at timcamuso@aol.com

Officiants

Mitch Maged, contact Mitch at mitchtheminister@aol.com

Debbie Blake Rivera, dj_rivera.weddings@yahoo.com

Stationery

Darling and Pearl, lauren@darlingandpearl.com, contact Lauren

Bella Carta Boutique, jillian@bellacartaboutique.com, contact Jillian

Hair and Make Up

Up-Do Guru, theupdoguru@yahoo.com, contact Elizabeth

Battello Jersey City closes abruptly and leaves couples stranded! Follow the link to read more!

 

The Rest of the Real Wedding Planning Checklist

Welcome to the rest of the real wedding planning checklist. If you missed the first part, make sure you read this first!

In Part 1, I talked about some bigger items like selecting your wedding venue and hiring your photographer, band and of course, wedding planner. In this part of the blog, I will finish off the rest of the wedding planning checklist and tell you when to book everything from lighting to restroom trailers.

Lighting and Other Décor

What your lighting will look like will depend on what your venue offers. If you’re working with a venue with an in-house lighting designer, then their availability is less of a priority than if you were to bring an outside vendor in. That said, as a designer, I like to handle all of the aesthetic components at the same time since they all work together. This means lighting is done on the earlier side.

If you’re looking for basic lighting features like wall washes and monograms and you’ve booked a DJ, there’s a strong possibility that they can handle those features. However, if you’re looking for things like pin-spots and hung lights, then a lighting designer is essential.

How to create your wedding planning checklist whether you're getting married in 2 minutes, 2 months or 2 years! Pin now and read later!

Good lighting designers can be few and far between, so if you have the time, start your outreach 5-7 months prior to your wedding date. Pressed for time but lighting is a priority? Before selecting venues to tour, be sure to find out exactly what they offer and definitely what they allow. Give priority to venues with in house lighting designers in an attempt to kill two birds with one stone.

Other décor like furniture rentals, linens and signage can frequently be combined with your other vendors’ services. Check with your florist for their rental list and your stationery designer for signage. Bonus: the more you book with one vendor, the better that vendor can do on their price.

Officiant

I am always majorly surprised when a couple contacts me for full service and they haven’t considered something very important: the person performing the ceremony. If you’re not getting married in a religious house, you will need an officiant to make the marriage, you know, legal.

Depending on the state you’re in, a friend and/or family member might not be able to perform this service. Truth be told that’s not always a good idea anyway, but I digress…

Since it is impossible to be in two places at the same time, officiants, especially the good ones, book up a year or two (nope, not a typo) in advance. Along with wedding gown and venue, I always make securing a wedding officiant a major priority. If you’ve got the 12 months, then use them and if you’ve got more, use those too.

But if you’re working with much less, use whatever you have. To speed up the process, ask for recommendations from your married friends and family, get on google, talk to your venue about their vendors…basically do whatever you have to do and get this done.

This can be time consuming because yes, you will actually need to meet with these people. A skype or phone call won’t cut it here and officiants tend to be busy on weekends with…wait for it…weddings. If possible, block out a weekday and meet with a handful all on the same day. To narrow your choices down, look for or ask for videos of the officiants presiding over weddings so you can see them in action.

Wedding Wardrobe for Everyone Else

Bridesmaids and groomsmen all need stuff to wear and let’s not forget the groom and sometimes parents that are looking for assistance. Just like stationery, this timing will depend on what you’re looking for and just like a wedding gown, timing depends on designers.Not sure when to tell your girls to buy their bridesmaid dresses or when the groomsmen should get their tuxes? Read now and pin later this ultimate wedding planning checklist.

I personally believe and always suggest that my brides have at least an idea of what they want their bridesmaids to wear before I set up any appointments. To save time, look into stores that have similar styles to what you want and only make appointments with them. It should also come as no surprise that weekends book up first and if you can handle this on a weekday, you’re likely to get an appointment much quicker.

The bridesmaid wardrobe process should start much earlier than you think or have been told. Got 9-10 months before your wedding? That’s perfect as some designers take 9 months to get their dresses in. Most other designers will take at least 6 months and a select few will take less. But unlike your wedding gown, you can’t grab samples of these because you likely need more than one.

If you don’t have the time, treat this like your wedding gown shopping and talk to stores in advance about what they have and how long everything takes to come in. Be transparent about the time you’re working with and visit stores with the best and most options. To really cut down on time, go to the stores to select the gown or gowns yourself and then leave it to your bridesmaids to only deal with getting measured instead of giving opinions.

For the boys, your options are renting or owning (sucks to be a bridesmaid…for now…subscribe to my YouTube Channel to find out more) and less time isn’t always a bad thing. The more traditional you’re going, i.e. black tuxes all around, the easier and less time consuming this will be. A word of caution in regard to timing and tux rentals: prom season is going to get in your way and you’ll have to factor that 1-2 month period into your planning timeline.

Should you not be going down the black tuxedo route, there’s a chance that you’ll need custom suits. If you want anything from what you think is a gray tuxedo or a blue tuxedo, or any other color, then you actually are looking for a suit. For more about that, be sure to check out my YouTube video discussing the difference between tuxedos and suits.

Custom suits require a 4 month window of time, so if you have that, you’re golden. You don’t necessarily need more than that for rentals, but if your groomsmen are spread out geographically, the more time you can give, the better. Typically, this isn’t an area of concern even with shorter engagements, but a common mistake I see here is couples leaving it as one of the last things to do.

Transportation

When to book your limos, shuttles and all transportation for your wedding day!

Limos, shuttles, party buses and magic carpets should be booked 8 months prior to your wedding or earlier if possible. Just like tuxedo rentals, prom season severely affects the availability of transportation companies. You don’t want to use multiple companies (seriously, do not do this) so it’s important to get this done early on so that you have choices.

Less than 8 months to check this off your list? You’ll likely be doing multiple vendor bookings at the same time, so add this one to the list. Save yourself some time by figuring out exactly what you need, for how long and from where to where. Consider how you and your fiancé will be traveling, as well as your wedding party and any immediate family including parents and grandparents.

If you want to provide transportation for your guests, booking shuttles is the way to go. These vehicles vary from 14 passenger vans to 55 passenger buses and should be booked early with the rest of the vehicles. Before you commit to transportation for your guests from a separate company, you should talk to your hotel block about their options. Speaking of which…

Hotel Blocks

9 times out of 10, and I actually think it’s more like 10 times out of 10, I set up hotel blocks for my couples. This might seem like something that can be done quickly, but take my word that it can be fairly complicated.

Because I like to handle transportation 9-10 months prior to the wedding and some of the transportation will be affected by a hotel block, I do these at the same time. I give automatic priority to hotels that offer shuttle service in house and that don’t have a financial obligation.

Unfortunately, both of these things have become close to extinct which only means you will need more time to find these dinosaurs in the first place.

If you’re not looking to shuttle your guests on the wedding day and you have only a few months to plan, typically 4-5 months out will be good enough to set up a block. It’s important to note that most blocks expire a full month before your wedding though. If you’re getting married around the holidays or other “hotel worthy” dates like Valentine’s Day, President’s Day Weekend, etc. then set up your block as soon as possible.

I mentioned that setting up a hotel block isn’t as easy as it seems and besides not being easy, it tends to be frustrating. Your time will be consumed with finding out the policy of each hotel and if you want to actually speak with someone there, good luck as they all hold typical 9-5, Monday through Friday hours.

A great way to save time and avoid a massive headache that will turn any normal bride into a zilla, is to use a service that does it for you. There are plenty available out there, but when I’m not handling the blocks myself, I like to use “Where Will The Stay?”. You can hear more about them and what they can do on my favorites segment here! Oh, and it’s free.

Hair and Make-Up

It probably feels like I am suggesting to do everything immediately if you’re getting married in less than a year. If it doesn’t feel that way yet, it’s about to.

When to hire your hair stylist and make up artist for your wedding day.

Hair and Make-Up services are something I try to book 6-8 months out if the couple has the time. Stylists book up quickly and are majorly affected by peak wedding season. Ideally, you’ll be hiring a company that will bring multiple hair and make-up stylists on the day of the wedding for the bride, bridesmaids and anyone else who needs it.

It’s important to leave time for a trial which you can have before booking or after…though I typically recommend before. Trials are another one of those “weekdays are better” things since stylists are busy with weddings and working in general on the weekends.

With limited time, consider hiring someone you have worked with before and see if they are able to put a team together. I would also recommend asking your photographer if they recommend anyone since it’s not a horrible idea to book these two vendors at the same time.

The Other Stuff You Didn’t Think Of (But I Did Because It’s My Job)

Everything I have discussed so far covers the basics that every wedding day needs. But what about those weddings that take place at venues with in-house nothing or just in-house a few things? What do you book when?

Outside Food and Beverage

If you’re dreaming of a “grow your own venue” deal where you get to bring in an outside caterer, then get ready to plan this 9-12+ months out. This falls in line with when you would book a venue since many venues include food as one of those essential things. Plus, when you bring in this outside service, you might need things to put the food on like plates and silverware and glassware is always nice to offer your guests.

More than 12 months to plan or at least 9 months and you’re in a good position to have choices available. Wrenches will get thrown into your planning timeline here around the holidays when caterers are super busy and wedding season can be a tough time to pin them down as well. You should consider that when deciding when to start the search.

When to book your wedding venue and everything else when wedding planning. Pin now and read later.

In general, I would recommend to couples with limited time to use a venue with as much stuff included as possible. But the heart wants what it wants right? Put this at the top of your list of things to do regardless and save time by asking for referrals from the venue you book as well as from friends and family.

Get on the same page with your fiancé in regard to type of food and style (sit down, buffet, etc.) that you want before making any phone calls. Liquor laws vary from state to state, so make sure you know if BYOB is an option or if your caterer will have to provide the liquor and only talk to caterers that can handle playing by the rules. To save even more time, work with caterers that will handle bringing in tables, chairs, linens and all of the basics so you don’t have to rent anything.

Restroom Trailers

Barns and farms are great (they are, don’t be a hater) but very few have indoor plumbing which means bringing in restroom trailers. These should be booked at least 5-6 months out, so a short engagement doesn’t usually pose a problem here. When searching for venues, find out whom they recommend (they should absolutely be able to tell you this) and what their electrical and water hook-ups are like. The trailer companies will need this information to give you pricing and let you know if they can even handle the venue’s property.

Cigar Rollers, Photobooths, and Other Fun Vendors

Novelty vendors such as these are a dime a dozen, though the best are frequently booked up in advance. Many of my couples don’t decide that they want vendors from the “fun” category until we’re within 6 months or so of their wedding. By that time, it comes down to having some extra money in the budget or suddenly realizing they always wanted something. I’ve never had an issue booking that close to the wedding date, so don’t panic if you’re tight on time.

Honeymoon

Saving the best for last, I always recommend a travel agency for my couples to work with for their honeymoon needs. Of course, I am able to make recommendations, but for truly personal attention and to save time, working with a travel agency is the best way to go.

I don’t handle this until about 6 or 7 months prior to the wedding date, but if I’m able to, I will get it done earlier. Travel agents frequently have conferences throughout the year and if they are away, they won’t be able to get back to you quickly. Put together a wish list of places if possible and find an agency that has specialists.

If you’re not working with a travel agent or if you’re going to honeymoon during a popular vacation time such as spring break or the holidays, start the process 7 months out. Not possible? Consider having flexible travel dates if you can and try to give yourself a minimum of 4 months before the wedding date.

Another option and one than many of my couples explore, is taking the honeymoon a few months past the wedding date. This gives them and can give you extra time to pull this all together either with an agency or on your own.

Wrapping Up

When to book everything when planning your wedding. The ultimate guide for engaged couples. Pin now and read later!

I know there are countless wedding planning timelines available to you and many come in a pretty printable template too. But wedding planning isn’t easy, which you may already be finding out. There are times of the year to always be aware of and in general, the more time you have, the better.

Unlike all of the timelines out there, I am completely aware that no two engagements are the same and 12 month timelines doesn’t always exist for everyone. You can’t book your venue 9-12 months out with less than 6 months to plan. I hope my wedding planner secrets gave you ideas on how to increase the time you do have instead of working with the time you don’t.

Are you planning a wedding with less than a year to get it all done? What advice do you have for other couples with short engagements? Share what you’ve done or what you wish you had done differently in the comments section below!

 

Those Wedding Planning Checklists and Why They Suck

Planning a wedding and not sure when to book your vendors? Pin now and read later, this ultimate guide to creating your own wedding planning timeline!
Justin Tinapay Photography

If you’re engaged, or even if you’re not, you’ve probably visited a wedding website or 50 and come across their version of a wedding planning checklist. What you don’t know is why those wedding planning checklists totally suck.

You know the type of checklists I’m talking about: what to do first through what to do last and when to do it. They all start the same way telling you to get that gown and venue somewhere between 9 and 12 months before your actual wedding date.

But what happens when you have a 6 month long engagement?

How can you secure your wedding venue and your wedding gown 12 months before your wedding when your wedding is only 6 months away?

It’s basic wedding math.

Actually, no, it’s just basic math. Because 12 is bigger than 6 and that’s just 1 reason why those wedding planning checklists suck for 2 people getting married.

And I’m going to tell you all the other reasons these checklists suck in this blog. So get ready to delete those sites you’ve bookmarked and remove all of those planning checklist pins. This is what you really need. Straight up, no chaser.

To make this easy to apply to any wedding, I have listed some basic wedding planning “to-do” items and when to do what. I am also sharing my secrets that you might never have thought about. Because, yes, despite what those self-proclaimed number one wedding websites say, it actually does matter when you get married.

Disclaimer: I am already going to assume that everyone reading this knows that figuring out your budget is the first step to any wedding planning ever. Know your numbers before you do anything.Planning a wedding and not sure when to book your vendors? Pin now and read later, this ultimate guide to creating your own wedding planning timeline!

Those Standard 12 Month Out To-Do Items

The Wedding Gown

Picking out the dress is almost always done first when planning a wedding. Of course, this is primarily because it’s basically shopping. However, it’s shopping for the most important piece of wardrobe you will likely ever own. Getting the gown makes the engagement feel “real” for many brides.

Ideally you should purchase the gown a full year prior to your wedding date. Many designers will need upwards of 9 months to create and send the gown to the store. Then you have to account for any time needed for alterations. Personally, I like to add in extra time in the off chance that my bride either has buyer’s remorse or something goes wrong with the order.

Something frequently ignored by these wedding timelines is the very real time it takes to actually get things done. In this case, it’s important to consider the time it takes to actually find that gown. I mean, if it takes over 20 years to find the groom, then it’s not going to take 20 seconds to find the dress you want to wear when you marry him.Planning a wedding and not sure when to book your vendors? Pin now and read later, this ultimate guide to creating your own wedding planning timeline!

There are so many moving parts to consider when figuring out how much time you will need to shop for your wedding gown. First and foremost, weekend appointments book up quickly, and it can take up to a month to secure a date. You also have to consider the schedules of anyone you want to have with you when you shop. Lastly, if you think you’ll need multiple shops to visit, you’ll also need multiple days for said appointments.

These are just some of the reasons why the wedding gown should be ordered one year in advance. Obviously, that isn’t always possible if your engagement is shorter than 12 months.

It’s not hopeless if you’re engaged in January and getting married in June though. You should make finding your gown one of your three first priorities (the second one is next), but you don’t necessarily need a full year. Here are a few wedding planner secrets:

Purchase a sample or “off the rack”

When you go to try on wedding gowns, every gown you try on is considered a sample or “off the rack”. Many times these gowns will be available for purchase at a reduced cost. The three things every bride should be aware of are:

  1. These gowns are sample size i.e. 10-12 dress which translates to 6-8 real size. It’s a lot easier to shorten a gown and make it smaller than it is to add length and let it out. It’s also less expensive.
  2. Sample sales are typically final, so if you aren’t in love with it, don’t buy it.
  3. Since these gowns have been tried on, there will be imperfections and not all of those imperfections will be fixable. Sometimes this will be as minor as a hem needing to be re-stitched and other times it’s major like missing beading.

Set up your appointments on a weekday if possible or a weeknight as a second option.

I’ve already mentioned this, but weekend appointments are hard to come by since people, you know…have jobs. If you’re in a rush to say “yes to the dress”, a weekday appointment will be available sooner and you’ll likely not be rushed through the appointment and able to try on even more gowns.Planning a wedding and not sure when to book your vendors? Pin now and read later, this ultimate guide to creating your own wedding planning timeline!

Bring only 1 other person with you

I am 110% against entourages when shopping for any wedding wardrobe, but especially when looking for a wedding gown. Your bridesmaids aren’t “like that”…until they are. Opinions always fly and all they do is take up time during the appointment and delay your ability to make a decision. You also have to work around their schedules and pray you can find time when you’re all available. If you really need your crew (which many bridal salons don’t allow FYI) then bring them to show them what you’ve already chosen.

Look for designers that can turn a dress around quicker than average

Not every designer needs 9 months to deliver a wedding gown. Before you crack out on Pinterest and need to have a dress by a certain designer, find out what designers are available at your local salon and when their gowns come in by. Hint: Pronovias frequently can turn around a dress in under 6 months and I’ve also had luck with Moonlight Bridal.

Speak to the wedding salons about rush orders

If you’re really in a bind or fall in love with a designer that takes longer than you have, speak with the salons about paying to rush your order. Sometimes this can buy you as much as a month, but coupled with buying from a designer that’s quicker than the rest, you might be good to go.

Go vintage

Just like buying a sample, you can go the vintage route and pick up a pre-worn gown. I do not, like really do not, advocate buying your wedding gown online. However, you can find some really beautiful vintage wedding gowns at reputable small stores. In fact, there are stores literally dedicated to selling vintage gowns. If you’re wedding is incorporating this hot-never-going-to-die trend, then look around for a shop like this.

Attend trunk shows

Trunk shows are great for two reasons. The first reason is that you can get anywhere from 10-20% off of the gown’s full price. The second reason is that you can see an entire collection from a designer as opposed to the 3-10 pieces the salon currently has. This is perfect for the bride that wants a specific designer’s wedding gown as it takes away the need to bounce from store to store looking at options.Planning a wedding and not sure when to book your vendors? Pin now and read later, this ultimate guide to creating your own wedding planning timeline!

Your Wedding Venue

The second major priority when planning a wedding is finding the venue.

Duh.

Sometimes, 12 months isn’t enough time to get this done though. With wedding season spanning the months between May-November and peaking in September and October, your dream venue might be booked up to two years in advance. I cannot tell you how many couples I have worked with that had to make the decision whether or not to extend the length of their engagement solely to get their venue of choice.

If that’s not an option for you, then it’s best to be flexible with your venue choices. Not just normal flexible either. More like Gumbi flexible.

The venue is also going to set your wedding date. I know, you thought you had control over that one didn’t you?

Believe me, most couples contact me with a wedding date picked out and don’t have a venue locked down yet. Then they have to decide if they want to see venues that aren’t available on their “date” or if they are open to that date solely representing the time of year they want to be married.

Because the venue essentially sets your date, you should always venue shop and venue book before going dress shopping.

When you make appointments to go try on wedding gowns, the first question they will ask you (besides budget) is your wedding date. Don’t make the mistake of giving them a date you’ve selected, only to purchase a wedding gown and then have to scramble when the venue you want isn’t available for that date. You might find yourself needing a second gown (like a sample) because the first one isn’t coming in on time if you end up booking a venue for an earlier date than your original date.

You know…the date that wasn’t real because you didn’t have a venue yet…

If you have over a year to plan, don’t sleep on getting the venue. Just like it takes time to shop for wedding gowns, you will need all the time you can get to find a venue. Odds are, you will need to coordinate schedules with your fiancé and possibly both sets of parents. Weekend appointments book up first and some venues won’t tour if a wedding is taking place on the same day.

All of that adds up to needing a ton of time to find the venue for your wedding day. Of course, if you can schedule tours on weekdays and look at venues that are in close proximity, you’ll need less time than normal.

Also helpful is to do as much research on these venues before committing to an appointment. It’s not always possible to get pricing from a venue without setting an appointment. In fact, one of the many reasons to hire a wedding planner is that we tend to have that information already or we can get it without much struggle.Planning a wedding and not sure when to book your vendors? Pin now and read later, this ultimate guide to creating your own wedding planning timeline!

Wedding Planner

Before you do anything past establishing your overall budget, if you’re going to hire a wedding planner, that is your Step 1 in the planning process. So, if you have 1 month or 1 year, do this before the rest of the tasks. A few reasons why:

Reputable and professional wedding planners book up to if not over a year in advance, especially for peak wedding season dates. Many planners, myself included, will not take on more than one wedding or event per weekend.

Hiring a planner for full service means they can do all of the work for you including finding the perfect venue and vendors. That’s right, you basically just have to tell them what you want and just like magic, options will appear.

A full time planner can speak with venues and vendors at the hours that you can’t. You know, like 2pm on a Tuesday. This means that more planning gets done in a shorter amount of time because planners have the same hours as venues and vendors. No back and forth voicemails and emails needed here.

If you’re only looking for someone to handle “Month Of” Coordination, many planners will not book that package until you’re under the 6 month mark. To be blunt, most planners would rather hold out for a last minute full service client than to lock up a weekend with a smaller package. The good part here is if you are a couple with a short engagement only looking for this type of help, you could easily have some solid options to choose from.

All that said, the number one way to get your checklist all checked off? A professional wedding planner…as soon as possible and before anything else.

The Big Ticket Vendors: Photo/Video, Music and Florals

Photo and Video

Always listed on wedding planning checklists around the 6-8 month mark are your photographer, videographer, music and florist. On average, most couples will have at least 6 months to plan. However, just because they have 6 months, doesn’t mean getting these vendors booked will always happen at that time. Remember how venue and gown come first?Planning a wedding and not sure when to book your vendors? Pin now and read later, this ultimate guide to creating your own wedding planning timeline!

Many photographers and videographers will only be available for one wedding per day unless they work like an agency. It’s very important to meet these people before hiring them. I know, you totally do not have time to do this, right?

Make time.

Invent it if you need to.

Your photo and video team will be with you almost the entire day of your wedding. If you’re not comfortable with them, it will show in those photos and videos you get back. There are no do-overs and it’s not enough to just love the work or the product.

In addition to meeting/interviewing these people, I always recommend an engagement session with your photographer because that’s basically practice for the real thing. The real thing being your wedding day.

As a planner, I like to book photo and video 9 months to one year in advance. I know, that’s totally not what the internet tells you to do, right? Silly them…

If you plan to do an engagement shoot (I mentioned you should and I meant it), odds are your photographer will have more availability on a weekday. Since weekdays are a problem for many couples, then you will need a weekend and guess what tends to be a problem for wedding photographers?

You guessed it: weekends.Planning a wedding and not sure when to book your vendors? Pin now and read later, this ultimate guide to creating your own wedding planning timeline!

This means that you could be waiting months to take your engagement photos and if you want them outdoors, you’ll have to leave time for rescheduling in case it rains. You also won’t be able to shoot outdoor photos for a handful of months if you live in a state where winter exists. Pretty soon you’re taking your engagement photos 1 month prior to your wedding and that is no bueno.

If you have longer than one year, start this process at the 9 month to one year mark. This is especially important if you are getting married during peak season since you might get a lot of “sorry, already booked” responses. If you are pressed for time, then shop for both photo and video simultaneously (a general rule of thumb anyway) and line up appointments via Skype if that’s the only way you can schedule a weekday.

Music

It doesn’t matter if you have a band, DJ or both, sometimes 6-8 months isn’t enough time to book. Like the other vendors that you will need at your wedding, many bands and DJs book up peak season 9-12 months in advance. If you want something specific, such as an electric violinist or a DJ that can provide live musicians to accompany his music, then I recommend shopping 7-9 months prior to your wedding date.

While I know many people (and many planners) will probably disagree with me here, I am going to say that seeing these people in person is essential. If you want a live band, there is no better way to hear what they really sound like than to attend an in person showcase. Sometimes, there will only be showcases available once a month or every other month. If you’re not available on the one date they have, then you’ll be forced to wait until the next one.Planning a wedding and not sure when to book your vendors? Pin now and read later, this ultimate guide to creating your own wedding planning timeline!

If you’re going with a DJ, an in person meeting or interview isn’t mandatory but I wouldn’t recommend booking without a least a Skype or phone call. Any DJ worth hiring will be passionate about music and even more passionate about selecting the right music for your wedding. It’s equally important to know how the DJ works and to make sure the way they work is in line with what you imagine for your wedding.

For the couples with shorter engagements, it’s a good idea to get a hold of videos of past performances of bands and DJs. Showcases might not always be possible and you might not have the time to sit down and interview DJs. However, even if it’s 11pm at night, you should make the time to watch and listen to any recordings the music vendors can provide to you. Also consider looking into any bands or DJs you heard at weddings you attended and fell in love with.Planning a wedding and not sure when to book your vendors? Pin now and read later, this ultimate guide to creating your own wedding planning timeline!

Florists

As a wedding planner, I insist that my clients meet florists that I recommend before signing a contract. While it doesn’t matter so much that you’re vibing on a personal level, it is important to know that they understand what you want. It’s just as important that you are confident in their ability to create it.

You will never get that from an email exchange. Period.

However, most florists will only be available to meet on weekdays, which can make setting anything up totally impossible. If you don’t have 7-9 months before your wedding date (which is when I recommend securing a florist), then doing your homework prior to a meeting or in place of one is essential.

Before you go sending your 597 pins of centerpiece inspiration out to every florist within a 50 mile radius of your venue, narrow those pictures down. Way down. It’s more important for a florist to know your colors and the feel of your wedding. It’s less important for them to know the exact height you picture for each centerpiece and how if you don’t have peonies you’ll throw yourself off a bridge.Planning a wedding and not sure when to book your vendors? Pin now and read later, this ultimate guide to creating your own wedding planning timeline!

Another way to save time is to look at websites of florists and see if their work is similar to what your style is. If you find yourself drooling over a website but don’t see your style displayed, you can reach out to the florist and ask them for additional examples.

For instance, if you have a vision of greenery suspended from a tent, but don’t see it on a florist’s website, there is no harm in asking if they have done that before and if they have, could they share pictures. If you’re tight on time and having trouble choosing between florists, consider paying for a sample centerpiece to help make your decision easier.

Feeling overwhelmed yet? There’s a lot to this wedding planning stuff and knowing when to do everything can be a lot to digest. In order to avoid throwing anyone into a meltdown and running off to elope, I’ll continue the rest of this timeline in the next blog.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter and Facebook so you’ll know when to come back for the rest of the to-do list and when you want to get started on those items. In the meantime, share below if you’re on the fast track to the wedding day and what you’re doing to check stuff off your list!

5 Affordable Ways to Make Your Wedding Invitations Stand Out

Note: This post contains affiliate links. This means that I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you) if you subscribe or purchase something through the links provided. That said, if I say I love something, I really truly love it.

Many of my engaged couples are looking for beautiful wedding invitations at a low cost. The truth is, custom invitations start at $12 a piece and most average between $20-$30 each. If you are inviting 300 people, that’s 150 invitations and a minimum of $3,000. Now while I love me some custom stationery, I also love being able to afford things like food.Romantic and rustic, this wedding invitation suite is perfect for an outdoor or tented affair

What is wonderful about custom wedding invitations, besides being gorgeous, is that they are one of a kind. This means you will sit down with a real person who will design your invitations from colors to font to enclosures. And no one will have seen it before.

But for my brides and grooms that think their guests will trash the invitations, I need to offer an alternative. As a wedding planner, I recommend purchasing invitations online and creating custom stationery for the day of. Then again, if paper just isn’t a priority, many websites offer things like menus and table numbers that match your wedding invitation.

One thing I love about these websites is how far they have come since first becoming a thing. There are countless ways to customize your invitations and there are real designers involved as well. While you won’t be sitting down with anyone flipping through swatches, you will have plenty of options to choose from.

Here are 5 affordable ways to make your wedding invitation stand out without going the custom route:

This foil press wedding invitation with gold lettering is both chic and elegant

Foil Press

A great option for the bride and groom that love shine but not glitter is the foil press invitation. The background can be any color, but darker jewel tones like navy blue, deep purple or even black will really make the words stand out. This look is chic and elegant but is appropriate for a black tie wedding just as much as a laid back wedding on the farm.

This invitation sample is from Minted and like many others can be customized with various colors. The foil is a rose gold which is perfect for a romantic wedding at any location. Foil is available in rose gold, standard gold and of course silver.

Letterpress

Letterpress invitations are probably the most formal of all and perfect for a black tie wedding.This letter press wedding invitation from Minted is perfect for a formal and elegant wedding Not that you couldn’t use this type of invitation for a backyard bash, but that’s not where you see it most. Since it is the style used for those upscale and luxury weddings you see regularly on reality shows, it is also typically pricey.

Online wedding invitation sites absolutely offer more affordable options than a custom designer would, but letterpress will be the most expensive on the site. If you are having a formal wedding, this raised printing will let guests know that jeans are not an option. The printing isn’t just about the wording either. Letterpress can be used for any design on your invitation as well. [tweetshare tweet=”A word of caution though: stick to one or two colors with this style so that it looks clean and upscale.” username=”RothweilerEvent”]

Envelope LinersTake your wedding invitations to the next level by adding envelope liners in glitter!

Gone are the days of boring off-white envelopes that are simply used to hold the pretty wedding invitation. I love when the whole wedding “look” comes together and envelope liners are another way to get that job done. If you are all about the details then you will love this as much as I do.

Depending on your invitation colors and design, the liner to the envelope is available in everything from solids to sparkle. My favorite type of liner is a floral pattern in deeper colors, but you can really do anything. Sometimes when you receive your order, you will have to DIY the liners and put them onto the envelopes yourself. Before you decide to jump on this trend for your wedding, find out if it’s an arts and crafts project for you first.

Belly Bands

This is such a cute trend and there are about 459 different ways to do it. If you’ve never heard of belly bands, it’s basically stuff wrapped around the invitation suite. Add a belly band around your wedding invitation to keep all of the enclosures together and really be unique!That “stuff” can be anything from paper to ribbon, and it bands around the belly of the enclosures. Get it? [tweetshare tweet=”The belly band is seen as an accessory to the invitation and it really does enhance the entire look.” username=”RothweilerEvent”]

The reason I love this so much is because it works for all types of weddings. I’ve seen these done in nothing but glitter just as much as I’ve seen florals, solids and monograms. It’s also a nice way to present an invitation so when it’s taken out of the envelope, it doesn’t fall apart. Think about it, you’re sending an invitation along with a RSVP card, direction enclosures, RSVP envelope and sometimes more. All of that put into one envelope can be a mess, but a belly band will keep it all together.

Lasercut

My absolute obsession is lasercut anything. Unique and fun lasercut wedding invitations for the edgy bride and groomSuch a hot trend for over a year now, we are seeing laser cut cake toppers, laser cut signage, laser cut drink stirrers and of course, laser cut wedding invitations. You. Guys. Lasercut is amazing. Join me on my little freakout moment, won’t you?

This style is fun and funky but make no mistake, this is totally perfect for a black tie wedding too. It reminds me of those snowflakes you would make in kindergarten where you would fold a piece of paper and go crazy with the scissors. No? You know what I’m talking about right? Well that’s what this is and it looks awesome. So if you want your guests to say “oh that’s cool” when they open that envelope, go for lasercut and don’t look back.

Those are my top 5 ways to create a unique but affordable wedding invitation. If you are a bride or groom that doesn’t want to spend a lot on the paper part of your wedding day, check out sites like Wedding Paper Divas and get 20% off if you order before March 31, 2017!

I always say that it’s best to see invitations in person, so make sure you order a sample before committing to “the one”. Follow the link to get your three free (told you this was an affordable blog) samples from our friends at Minted.

Don’t forget to tell me in the comments what your favorite style is for your wedding invitation!

 

Alexa and Michael’s Fairytale Wedding

with-amWhen I first met with Alexa and Michael, we sat in my office for over two hours.

I knew there was something special about this couple the minute we met. Their conversation flowed like they were already married and they had a connection that brought a huge smile to my face.

Huge Disney fans, they wanted to create a magical wedding at The Ashford Estate. Alexa had several hundred pins on her Pinterest page (seriously more than I’ve ever seen from a bride like ever), and we got to work right away.

carriageDetails and design are my favorite part of the job, but they can get crazy really fast. The thing that my couples struggle with the most is how to bring their vision to life without it looking like a Pinterest fail. A lot of my brides love different styles that just won’t work together, so it’s about making decisions and eliminating any inspiration that just won’t fit.

Alexa and Michael had their colors set and they were working with whites, creams, antique blue, purples and lots of greens. Carroll’s Florist did such an amazing job with their engagement party, that they were the obvious choice for their wedding.

am_12Golds, pearls and crystals were incorporated into the design and there were three different style centerpieces for the 23 tables at the reception. The Ashford Estate has these incredible high ceilings, so skyscraping centerpieces were totally in order. In fact, when it came time to schedule the sample appointment, Chad of Carroll’s Florist suggested that we take it outside since my office ceilings were “too low” to accommodate what he was putting together. That was a first for me, but he wasn’t kidding!

The florals selected for this wedding are the ones that I have dreams about but rarely get to work with. They included amnesia roses and antique blue hydrangea. One of the wonderful things about working with this couple was their willingness to get creative and not be afraid to take the design up a level (or 20).

I’m a strong believer that your décor and design should be present in every room your guests enter. This includes each area they will be in both inside and outside. The Ashford Estate has multiple rooms within the main building, as well as a barn on site and the ballroom is actually separated and in its own space. This meant walking all of the spaces and discussing the details and what we could do.

fountainWhat I mean when I say that we have to make your design “present” in every room, I mean things like florals in the fountains. Because why not?  Alexa and Michael (especially Alexa) loved flowers and when I think “Disney” I think about flowers being everywhere.

We didn’t stop at the fountains though, because that would be ridiculous. Each mantle was adorned with different florals as well, and the couple included pieces they had either purchased or made. The tables held the centerpieces and a floral bunch was placed at each setting on top of the napkins we rented.

But design isn’t just florals, and Alexa and Michael had secured Papertree Studio to handle all of their stationery from invitations to programs. A beautiful invitation, worthy of a royal ball, was sent out to all of the guests but we were stuck on what to do for escort cards.

Foregoing the escort board option (because hello huge guest list and early RSVP date that would be necessary), Alexa had the idea to name each table after famous Disney couples. She wanted to have each table “number” be a book, so we came up with the idea of using “bookmarks” for escort cards. Then they added a quote from each story at the bottom.

am2The font had to all be the same to create a specific look, and their logo was no exception. Playing with lighting colors right up until the month before the wedding, Alexa and Michael chose a blue-purple hue to illuminate the reception space and placed their logo above the mantle. Candles were used inside the fireplace and throughout the room to up the romance factor.

Each table was draped in white linens and lavender napkins. I love drawing attention to the sweetheart, gift, escort and cake tables by putting different linens on them. Working with the placement of the tables is really important because it’s essential that the linens don’t “clash”.

Their “card box” was a Cinderella’s carriage that Alexa had painted gold, and that Carroll’s adorned with flowers. Because of it’s size, we needed a 6 foot table and it would have to be placed behind the sweetheart table. This means that the sweetheart table, card table and cake table would be very close to each other.

Going through a book of swatches, we selected linens with the couple that would be different from each other, highlight anything being placed on the tables, and that would work well together. A combination of sparkles and solids were selected and the newly married couple sat in vintage chairs that I stumbled upon months earlier. (Actually, I was at a floral meeting for another wedding I was working on, when I spotted them in the building and immediately snapped a picture and texted them to Alexa with nothing more than “how about these?” The rest was history and not only were they beautiful, but damn comfortable too!)

I loved working with Alexa and Michael and it was such a beautiful wedding that truly reflected their style. It is really hard for me to pick a favorite detail or moment from this one. Their cake, designed by Michael’s sister was just stunning, the music was sensational and their wedding party was so friendly that I felt like I was in a movie. This was also the wedding where I heard what is (and probably always will be) the best father of the bride toast ever. Seriously, other couples should hire Alexa’s dad to toast at their weddings.

Congratulations to Alexa and Michael and thank you for working with me! I am so happy we met and know that you will live Happily Ever After….

(yes…this was the only font that didn’t “go” with the rest…but it was a good call….)

happily

 

 

Rustic and Romantic Styled Shoot

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Alicia King Photography

I am always searching for the newest “off the beaten path” venue. You know the ones: the barns, the farms, the estates, and the vineyards. Those beautiful locations that no one ever thought to have weddings at…until recently.

I was born and raised in New Jersey and to many people that means that I must wear lots of animal prints and sequins. Truth be told, I own one or two pairs of leopard print heels and only break them out every once in awhile.

Being a non-traditional bride myself, I wasn’t “typical Jersey” when I was planning my own wedding. New Jersey has countless ballrooms to choose from and they all have the bling everyone sees on the Jersey based reality shows. The menus are standard Italian and there is always way too much food. Not knocking what some brides and grooms want, but it was never what I was looking for.

My style has been described to me (because I don’t really know what to call it myself) as very “California”. I love boho chic, but I’d hang a chandelier in a tree in a heartbeat. I’ve done the barns and farms before they were what everyone suddenly wanted and thus, I am over the burlap, lace and mason jars filled with “wildflowers”. What can I say? I’m just not basic ballroom bling.

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Alicia King Photography

I love vintage furniture and have a pretty sweet collection that includes dressers, couches and plenty of china. I rent the pieces out when I can, but not many couples realize what the expense will be (hint: a lot). Therefore, anytime I can use the pieces, I jump at the chance.

Over the summer I designed a styled shoot in New York State. For those of you that don’t know what a styled shoot is, it’s basically a bunch of creatives in the wedding industry getting together and showing off their talents. This shoot incorporated plenty of vintage pieces from my collection as well as a horse or two.

It wasn’t my intention, but while designing the colors and theme for the shoot, I kept going back to Pantone’s “color of the year”. 2016 was all about the watercolors of rose quartz and some light blue color. Honestly, I was never crazy about the colors or the combination for wedding inspiration, but I loved (seriously L-O-V-E-D) using them for this shoot.

We were fortunate enough to have not just photography but a videography team in place too. In fact, you can check out their amazing video right here: Video Coverage

The location was the highest point in Duchess County, New York, which made dealing with the light a little difficult. It was basically full on sun for the entire day. There were a good amount of reflectors and flashes being used to battle the summer sun and zero clouds.

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Alicia King Photography

For any farm or barn wedding, if there are animals around, I always want to incorporate them. I mean…come. on. How gorgeous does this model look draped over this stunning horse? This wedding dress was an airy ballgown with a crystal bodice and we designed a eucalyptus wreath for the horse.

As a designer, I fully believe in complimenting your surroundings and not competing with them. It would’ve looked ridiculous to have used bold and dark colors and over the top tall centerpieces.

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Alicia King Photography

In order to keep the natural feel without being too nature, nature, nature, we worked with long gray-brown farmhouse tables and a simple deep blue runner. I wanted to keep the rest of the table exposed to showcase the vintage china. Place settings are a huge deal to me and if you can work it into your budget, I highly recommend a floral and/or custom menu on each plate. It really is that extra touch and it “finishes” the look of the table, much in the way a charger would.

The runner was scrunched to give that “I woke up like this” look and the flowers were placed in a vintage silver holder. In keeping with that natural but beautiful wedding vibe I was going for, figs and artichokes were included in the design. Remember, if you’re on a farm, a great way to work with what you have is to use what they have.

We luckily had the entire day to shoot and were able to use the barn on site as well as the entire grounds. Even though the sun never hid from us, the light changed enough to give some serious contrast to the photos. You can also see some behind the scenes fun over on our YouTube Channel here: Behind The Scenes

Styled shoots are a crazy amount of work, but the end result is always amazing. When you’re looking for wedding inspiration, you’re most likely going to be pinning pictures from more styled shoots than actual weddings. It’s a great chance to see what vendors can really do and just how creative they can be. For more wedding inspiration from this shoot, make sure to visit our Pinterest page: Romantic Wedding Inspiration