day 31: {guest post} sara.

i can't believe it... the last day of 31 days! thank you to all of the new readers who have stuck around... i hope my little series has been fun & informative, whether you're planning a wedding or not!

in sticking with my monday guest posts (thanks again to sonnie, jamie, jess, & lyndsay!) we're finishing up with some words from my friend sara! i had the honor of being in sara's wedding 2 1/2 years ago -- she was a beautiful, low-maintenance bride, and now lives up in minnesota with her husband andrew. (they're on staff with the same college ministry i worked for after college!) i'm excited for sara to finish out my series...

So you’re planning a wedding. Can feel pretty overwhelming. Exciting and adventurous for sure but as the billion decisions begin flying at you, it can easily go beyond a little stress.
A few years ago when I tied the knot there were a few things that helped keep us sane during the process:
1) Realize your priorities. Do the people make it for you? Will the pictures? The Dress? The food and atmosphere? Think of the top 5 most important things for your wedding. Rank them.
2) Plan around those priorities: Once we decided on the direction of our celebration, it was easier to make decisions that lined up with it. Some people would rather have a fewer people and enjoy nicer food, drinks and venues. For others it’s the people that matter. Everything is about your closest friends and family being a part of your new life. That may mean less food, cheaper venue, different time, etc. For others, the décor is super important or the location is extra meaningful. This will also make budgeting much easier when you know what you splurge on and what you can save or pass on.
3) See where you can cut corners: You’ve got your main focus, but now what about all the other stuff? Think about how you can cut corners or skip on things that you aren’t so keen on. If these aren’t your top priorities, consider:
• Friends: use connections you may have! From invitations to catering to cakes, to bands and DJs, ask what your friends can do!
• Wedding cake: I’ve been to weddings that had Krispie Kreme donut cake and a “grooms cake” as cold stone ice cream, but if you want the traditional cake, get a small display cake and ask for most of your serving to be from sheet cakes in the back. It can save hundreds of dollars.
• Flowers: go for seasonal, local, flowers and stick with less diverse bouquets to save money; the more exotic, the more expensive
• Food and drink: dessert, pasta bar, skip hors d'oeuvres, or only do heavy hors d'oeuvres and skip the meal; open bars are pricey
• Centerpieces: skip the flowers, use candles, pictures, even goldfish in vases, or use moss or greenery filling without flowers, fruit is a colorful and less expensive options (think citrus especially)
• Make the wedding party simple: bridesmaids and groomsmen are expensive with gifts, luncheons, rehearsal dinner, hotel rooms, etc. so cut down on your wedding party if you’re on a serious budget!
• Ask for discounts: it never hurts! Ask photographers, cake bakers, venues, and dress salons if they have deals or discounts. We got a better deal on our photography just because we asked!
4) Calculate your budget: You’ve got your priorities and your general plan, now you can sketch out a budget. I seriously recommend theknot.com’s budget calculator. I mean how in the world did I know what was an inexpensive dress or what was outrageous for a cake? It was a huge help and you can adjust it at any time. Plus when things change, you can visually see what you can move around. It’s also accessible online so you can access it anywhere- and so can your fiancé.
5) Gain perspective in planning. Surround yourself with people who will support and help you especially when you hit your wall- as I did on may occasions. Remind yourself of perspective in those moments: the only things that last forever are the souls of men and the word of God. Even your wedding day will pass. We should enjoy things here, but have our minds set eternally.
6) Do soak it up when it comes. At your rehearsal and rehearsal dinner and on the big day, specifically remember things. Fight to be in the moment, because this is an incredible change in your life. Take note of the crazy excitement you have as you step down the aisle, how you smiled at the rehearsal dinner, when your fiancé grabs your hand as people give toasts, your first dance, getting to kiss as a married couple! Remember the pictures and conversations you have with family, remember the first time you get to see your soon to be spouse on your wedding day. Soak up those things. Because the day will be over before you know it. And though every wedding marketing guru would love for you to believe your wedding day is a surreal magical cloud-like day, it’s special, but it is another day. . Special yes, but it will end just like any other. So focus on what’s really important- be excited about starting your new life together with your fiancé! Know that even if you had every detail perfect, you’d miss most of them. I never saw my centerpieces until I got the pictures, never looked at the tablecloths and napkins, didn’t glance at the gift table. I remember the people and getting to finally be Mrs. to my best friend. Details are great, but they’re not everything. Plus, your wedding day will come and go, but your commitment to one another will last forever!

*marisa's marks: sara has some wonderful advice -- i love the moments she says to remember -- i'm taking a mental note! and i completely agree about prioritizing... figure out what's important and the rest is just details :)

thanks again everybody... happy end of the 31 days!


day 30: wedding website.

it's pretty much the norm to have a wedding website these days... it's where you tell your guests the places you're registered, how to reserve blocked off hotel rooms, fun things to do in the city, and other cute details like how you met and/or your proposal story.
and websites like the knot and wedding wire walk you through each simple step of how to make one so you don't have to be a programmer or designer to make your site look good!

if you want to pay some money, you can step it up a notch and get a personalized web address, and design your own layout.

we went the free site route, and included the website on the invitations to point the guests to more information. i thought about giving you guys a link, but since i don't know who exactly reads this blog, i decided against it (i mean, it has the time & location of our wedding... could be weird, right?) but here's a screenshot of the front page...

*marisa's marks: decide if you care about a personal url or not - because that is really the only reason to pay for a site. otherwise, use one of the free hosts out there! and create your website together as a couple - we had so much fun writing our sections about each other, how we met, and the proposal. and don't forget to share with your family, friends, and wedding guests!


day 29: invitations.

it's kinda ridiculous how talented my friends are. one of those is ms. emily keafer - graphic designer extraordinaire. (if you are a nashville resident, you'd recognize her work on posters such as these.) emily had designed a few other friends' invitations, so it was a no brainer that i wanted her to do mine, too!
and i could not be more pleased. i gave her a little bit of direction, but also wanted her to have room to be creative... and i just love them!

we're going with a simple 2-sided card-stock invitation.
here's a sneak peek at the front:

now, we went a little away from the traditional invitations (you know the kind -- simple black embossed script, separate reply card, and maybe some tissue thrown in -- which i'll never understand why it's there.) we also decided to keep costs down by not having a reply card, and doing an electronic rsvp -- which also means only one stamp instead of two!

next up: i'm gonna grab some wine & cheese, and have my girlfriends over one night soon to help me address them! (nothing says "fun" like writing some addresses, right?)
{fyi: word on the street is that invitations should go out 6-8 weeks before the wedding}

*marisa's marks: prioritize what's important -- the design and/or the details. formal, traditional & classic or fun, trendy & creative? figure out what kind of rsvp you want - reply card, reply online, or email. and definitely consider a "friendor" (friend vendor) in this area -- they're probably no emily keafer, but i bet you know some friends who can use photoshop!


day 28: pre-marital counseling.

we've talked a lot in this series about planning for your wedding... but i think the most important thing to use engagement for is to plan for your marriage.
and one way to do that is by going through pre-martial counseling as a couple.

there are many different ways this can flesh itself out, depending on the size of your church (and therefore the resources they have) and/or on who is actually marrying you. some churches offer programs like right start. some pastors will walk you through counseling themselves, or bigger churches might connect you with an older couple who will mentor you through the process.

we feel so fortunate to have one of our pastors at midtown, dave, officiating our wedding and also walking with us through our engagement season. we meet with him every other week and discuss the workbook we're doing ("getting ready for a lifetime of love" - cheesy cover but really good material) and also just about whatever is on our hearts and minds. it has been so rich and a great springboard for conversations. yes, it can be exhausting to dig down to those emotional places sometimes -- things like your expectations, your fears, your doubts -- but feeling known and knowing the person you love in return is so worth it.

there are some great resources out there:
- "love and war" - john & stasi eldridge (jeff and i have both bought this & plan to start over the holidays)
- "the meaning of marriage" - tim & kathy keller (i pre-ordered this -- it comes out november 1st!)
- "when sinners say i do" - dave harvey (i've had a lot of friends read this)

let me know if you guys recommend any others!

*marisa's marks: pre-marital counseling is not always easy, but it's always good. you'd rather walk into your wedding day (and your marriage) fully confident of who you are saying "i do" to. i really don't think you can prepare too much -- so prioritize finding a pastor, counselor, or trusted older couple who can walk you and your fiance through this time and ask you guys those hard questions.


day 27: bridesmaid gifts with meaning.

i've already mentioned fashionABLE in my 31 days posts once. but even if you're not all about a scarf bouquet, giving these beautiful scarves as a gift to your girls is a no-brainer. i know i'm biased (i work for them if you haven't figured this out yet), but not only can they add that perfect pop of color that we brides so often look for in accessories, they're also an amazing gift that your girlfriends will most definitely want to wear again! not to mention they create sustainable business for women in Africa who were formerly on the streets. so as we say, they'll "feel good about looking good".. {check out the wedding part of the fashionABLE site here.}
along the same line is jewelry from 31 bits. they just launched their own wedding collection that i think is stunning. {i particularly love these bracelets!} and this company has a similar vision -- creating jobs for women. (are you catching a theme?)
one more company i'm a big fan of is TOMS. i mentioned in my post on the girls that i'm giving my bridesmaids matching navy shoes to go with their individual grey dresses. they have a whole wedding portion of their site, too (though i chose to drift from that and went with navy!). and for every pair of shoes purchased, TOMS gives a pair to a child in need. another win.
*marisa's marks: i'm gonna admit it - i've been on the receiving end of some bridesmaid gifts that i'm probably not gonna ever wear/use again. nothing against those brides, but another monogrammed tote or pearl drop earrings? no thanks. so not only should you be creative -- but think about ways your gift can give back! you'll feel good and you'll be the coolest bride ever. trust me.


day 26: {get crafty} wine bottles + corks.

we've talked about some fun, not-too-difficult crafts to make for your wedding so far involving mason jars, non-flower bouquets, and bunting/banners.
well, thanks again to pinterest, i have one more craft i'm gonna do.

i asked my friends to start saving their wine bottles (and corks) to give to me for a project. i had seen the bottles stripped of their labels and then used as vases in centerpieces, and just loved the simplicity of them:

and then i saw this fancy photo using the corks in big hurricane jars with candles. thankfully my friend sam owns a restaurant and was able to save up a couple hundred corks pretty easily.

i'm completely open to other fun crafts -- i've got 2 1/2 months to get busy!
have you seen any that i should attempt?

*marisa's marks: i love how both of these projects involve something you've probably already got in your home. gettin crafty doesn't have to mean spending a ton of money on supplies. think about what you've already got -- whether that's wine bottles, ribbon, or jars, and start searching the internet for ideas! let those crafty creative juices flow!!


day 25: {tuesday tunes} the reception.

so we've covered the pre-ceremony, the ceremony, & the first dance.
now it's time to really bust a move.

i don't know about you, but weddings are one of my favorite places to dance. it's such an outward expression of celebrating!

whether you hire a band, a dj, or just create your own iPod playlist like we're doing, make sure you pick songs that people want to dance to!

so, in no particular order, here are my top 10 dance songs for wedding receptions...

1. "i gotta feeling" - black eyed peas (tonight's gonna be a good, good night)
2. "pour some sugar on me" - def leppard (college band party favorite)
3. "rock with you" - michael jackson (the king of pop will make multiple appearances)
4. "forever" - chris brown (thank you youtube)
5. "party in the usa" - miley cyrus ("this definitely is not a nashville party!")
6. "single ladies" - beyonce (you just gotta do it)
7. "cupid shuffle" - cupid (you know it's fun)
8. "somebody to love" - justin bieber w/ usher (yes, justin bieber)
9. "teenage dream" - katy perry (honorable mention: "firework")
10. "moves like jaggar" - maroon 5 (one of my favs right now!)

what are some of your favorites?

*marisa's marks: don't feel confident in your music-selecting-skills? there are some great sites to get ideas of popular songs -- i suggest weddingmuseum.com and weddingchannel.com.


day 24: {guest post} lyndsay.

it's been fun having my friends post every monday during this series (recap: sonnie, jamie, jess). and i'm so honored for this week's guest post -- by my hilarious friend lyndsay... you're definitely gonna wanna read more of her writings over on her blog.

lyndsay gives us some insight into life as a bridesmaid...

4 Important Things to Remember as a Bridesmaid
Before we get started, this list is best read to the tune of your standard wedding ceremony and reception songs. Don’t fight me on this one. I will win.

Now aside from the negative mantra “always a bridesmaid, never a bride” and the recent hilarity/catastrophe which is Kristin Wiig in Bridesmaids, I’m convinced that being a bridesmaid is a wonderful and beautiful thing. An honor as a friend, a way to bless a couple that you care deeply for, and the chance to stand up and promise to support two people in their commitment to God and each other.

If done right, that is.

So to ensure that your experience as a ‘maid is more blessed than bridezilla, I’ve concocted a handy little quick-fire list of 4 things to keep in mind as a matrimony maid. Enjoy!

1. It is Not About You (Processional: Canon in D)
Yes, your opinion is valued by the bride (doy, that’s why she is having you in her wedding and, come to think of it, in her life,) but temper your taste and keep HER and her future husband in mind when you provide feedback. If she want’s Fuschia? She shall have Fuschia. If she wants you to do an African tribal dance at the reception (this is a true story for me, btw) you shall shake it. Heck, if she wants you to wear a little top hat because there is some symbolic meaning behind it, you shall tip your hat, grin, and bear it. Unless she needs some loving truth to get her back on course if she’s going off the “I Do” deep end, you just support her and trust that when it’s your turn she’ll do the same.

2. You Don’t Have to Give Away All of Your Future Wedding Ideas (Recessional: Ode to Joy)
It’s completely okay if you have a dream first song, or a creative craft that you’ve always wanted to incorporate someday into your big day that you don’t share with your soon-to-be-wedded friend. It does not make you a bad person and it does not doom your future wedding planning to keep a few of your cards close to your chest...at least I hope.

3. Listen Listen Listen. And Then Keep Listening. (Father Daughter dance: Butterfly Kisses)
In my experience as a ‘maid, I’ve learned that a lot of times, the bride just wants to throw out ideas. Her sweet little head is dancing with favors and garnishes and chocolate fountains and flower girl headbands and she just needs to let some of it out. The same rule that applies in a business brainstorm applies in a bridal brainstorm: there’s no such thing as a bad idea. A lot of times instead of jumping to the solution, the best way to be there for her is to just let her hammer it out a bit out loud. It’s a rule for life anyway so we better get used to it, right?

4. Have Fun (Dance floor: C’mon N Ride it)
Don’t you hate when articles and blogs end with the really obvious bullet point? Me too. But seriously. Whether you’re making cake balls (ahem :) ) or tying thousands of twine around light fixtures, or setting up (and tearing down) for the shower, reception or engagement party (or all 3!), remember that this is exciting and so very special and monumental in your friend’s life. So be patient (“Why yes I’d love to look over the menu again!), make some jokes (I make my sister refer to me as “your honor” when we talk about my maid of honor duties) and have fun (discuss ways you are going to haze her in the speech/slideshow/dance floor.) Your job is to ease the stress, be supportive, and remind her that this is going to be the best celebration of her life!

Cue: Love Shack // Shout // and the Macerena.
*marisa's marks: lyndsay is dead on. enjoy this honor of standing by your friends on their big day!


day 23: let them eat cake.

the cake.
probably one of the most iconic pieces of a wedding. there's even a tv show ("amazing wedding cakes" on we) in ode to them. while your cake can be a sweet part of your big day (see what i did there?) -- it can also be another place of added stress and dollars. cakes can average from $2 - $18 a slice, depending on how complicated the design -- yikes!

so with a guestlist of 300+ i knew i had to get creative.
it's no secret that i just love cake balls. so why not incorporate them into my wedding? i've enlisted a group of girlfriends to each make a recipe of a variety of different types -- totaling over 600 cake balls!

we're having a friend also make a little 6" cake that we can cut & feed each other (you know, for those kodak moments) -- and so i can put my cute cake bunting on it! but it's the cake balls that will serve as both the "wedding" and "grooms" cakes for all of the guests to satisfy that sweet tooth!

*marisa's marks: what is your favorite dessert? cupcakes? cookies? candy? who says you have to pick just one? you can even have a dessert bar!
and don't be afraid to ask your friends to use their time & skills for something like this and consider it their wedding gift! savings hundreds of dollars on a cake versus having one more toaster? definitely worth it.


day 22: the veil.

the wedding veil has come a long way over the years. now there are so many options!!

long. short. lace. lined with satin. with or without flowers.

do you have a favorite?

(images from bhldn)

*marisa's marks: obviously, pick your veil after your dress... and make sure it compliments the style. definitely check out etsy's wedding veils to find one you love!


day 21: the boys.

so yesterday we talked about the girls -- picking their own grey dresses.

next up: the boys. we knew we wanted both jeff and his groomsmen to rock some slammin grey pants. after lots of stores & searching, we found the winner at express. they're a great fit, and come in the perfect grey. and they were on sale, so the guys loved them. and the boys can wear just a white dress shirt they already own!
as jeff's gift to them, they'll get grey suspenders from american apparel, and a skinny navy tie.
and then for jeff to stand out, he'll have a navy shirt & grey tie. it's gonna look awesome!

here was a photo for inspiration...
*marisa's marks: gone are the days of the classic tuxedo (and the boys rejoice!) just like for the girls -- think of something they can wear again! no guy wants to rent a suit for the tenth time. and cummerbunds? please don't.


day 20: the girls.

after i picked my colors, it was an easy decision to figure out what our wedding party would wear. first up: the girls. (tomorrow we'll talk about the boys.)

as i searched for winter wedding inspiration, i just loved what i was seeing of grey bridesmaid dresses. and not just one in particular... i loved them all... these were dresses i could totally see myself & my friends wearing just for fun!
{and, in case you forgot -- i've done my fair share of bridesmaid duties, so i'm no stranger to having to buy a dress that you will probably not wear again.}
so my idea was to let my girls pick out a grey dress that they loved! i gave them some starter options below, but left it open that they could find a different one (and to just let me approve it!) ...and they've found some great sales and dresses that they feel comfortable in! i love it.

part of my gift to them is a pair of classic navy TOMS (thanks to my friend on staff & her discount!) and then some other fun accessories, too!
bridesmaids? check!
*marisa's marks: there are so many companies offering wedding collections now -- check out bhldn (anthro's wedding line), jcrew, and nordstrom ...just to name a few. think to yourself: is this a dress i'd want to wear again? if you can't see yourself wearing it to a wedding yourself, the answer is no. if you still want your girls to get a dress that they probably won't wear again -- consider finding sales and special deals that will make their purchase less painful, knowing it's only something they're wearing for one day!


day 19: {get crafty} bunting + banners.

some of my favorite DIY crafts i've been seeing on pinterest are an abundance of banners and bunting.
everything from table banners to backdrops to cake toppers.
this bunting cake topper below is my personal favorite, but instead of re-inventing the wheel and walking you through the steps, i'll let christina at intimateweddings.com show you. you better believe i'm gonna be making one of these -- it sounds very do-able!! i'll update you in a few weeks when i make the time to do it :)

my other favorite is a ribbon wall banner (i'm doing this for my altar backdrop) -- i'm super excited to get crafty and make one of these, too!
*marisa's marks: make a pinterest board of your favorites, and see if any photos are linked to how-to blogs. not feeling crafty? search etsy and sites like wedzu to see if anybody is selling a customizable version!


day 18: {tuesday tunes} first dance.

so we've covered the music for pre-ceremony & the ceremony. next comes the reception! but before the dance floor opens up, there's THE FIRST DANCE.
there is a lot of pressure around that first dance song. it typically comes right after you've been announced to your reception for the first time as "mr and mrs". then you head to the dance floor and everybody watches you sway back and forth for 3-4 minutes. (cue the awkwardness).

there are some classics out there like "at last" and "the way you look tonight" -- and really anything by frank sinatra or michael buble is gonna be great. but people are also getting more creative with their first dance song.

this is a song i've always thought about for a first dance. it's called "by the way they dance" and it's by one of my all-time favorite bands jump little children.

have you seen any first dance songs that you loved?

*marisa's marks: not many couples out there have a "song" that is theirs anymore (gone with the greatness of mix tapes i'm afraid)... but that doesn't mean there aren't songs that you both can connect with that carry significance and importance. think about songs that remind you of each other or of moments in your story together.


day 17: {guest post} jess.

each monday of this 31 days series, one of my blogging friends will be guest posting here. first it was sonnie, then jamie shared last week. today is my friend jess! jess lived with me for a semester in college, and is now out in san diego with her husband, matt. jess had a beautiful athens wedding a couple of years ago. she is expecting a little girl soon, and (like sonnie) is due on my wedding weekend!
I am so excited to be part of Marisa's 30 days of wedding blogging extravaganza! {And I'm thrilled to have another January-bride friend... winter weddings are so special!}
Two years ago, I was in the throws of the last semester of graduate school, planning a wedding, and preparing to start my new life across the country with my amazing husband-to-be. I remember wanting so badly to keep a level head about wedding planning, but in today's world of wedding blogs, it proved to be very difficult.
The thing I discovered about wedding blogs is that I felt like my wedding wouldn't be "good enough" if every element wasn't either DIY or way out of my budget. I realize that isn't the intention of these well-meaning bloggers, but it's hard not to fall into that way of thinking. So once I picked my colors and decided what I wanted the overall feel of the day to be, I picked just a couple of elements that could be a little unique and personal. One of those was the guest book!
I didn't want a book that would be tucked away in a closet with a bunch of signatures in it. I didn't want to frame a picture and have guests sign the matte because I wasn't sure I would always have a place to hang it. I wanted something that could showcase some of our engagement pictures while also giving guests a way to write a personal message if they chose.
I saw a picture somewhere that inspired me to make my own guest book. I purchased a 10x10 black scrapbook, added some engagement pictures, made little envelopes using this tutorial, cut pieces of paper to fit inside the envelopes, and my guest book was created!

Here are some pictures of the finished product:
Several times since being married, Matt and I have pulled out our guest book to read the messages and have been blessed all over again by the amazing people God has put in our lives. It accomplished all the things I was hoping and probably the wedding element in which I am most pleased!
*marisa's marks: jess is so right -- all of the blogs out there can be overwhelming & make you think it's possible to have every detail be just perfect. but choosing the elements that mean the most to you and spending your time & creative energy on those, that's what makes your day perfect. especially something that will last like a guest book! thanks for sharing, jess!!


day 16: photo booth.

well, we're halfway through our 31 days! i can't believe it. it has definitely been a discipline to blog every day -- but it's helping me get organized with all of my planning! i hope it's been informative & enjoyable so far... i've got the rest of the month pretty planned out, but if there is any specific topic/item you'd like me to address in the next 15 days, be sure to leave a comment!

alright, so today we're talking PHOTO BOOTH. the majority of the weddings i've attended the last couple of years have all had a photo booth. it's a great way to capture all of your guests celebrating & having a blast at your wedding -- it's like a visual guest book! you can have the old-fashioned actual "booth" (think: at the movie theatre when you were in middle school) or just a backdrop area all set-up. and they can come with or without an actual photographer (without usually has a manual "clicker" that the people posing in the photo push to snap the pic!).
i chose flashtastic photo booth, because the owner, david, is awesome. he's done some of my nashville friends' events and he's a uga alum (go dawgs!), so it's a win-win. he brings a customized backdrop & set of props that fit your event. AND he prints your photos on the spot -- so your guests have a little keepsake from your wedding! (they're also all online in a gallery 24 hours after the event for people to order) -- cool huh?

i'm super stoked for this little piece of our party. our friends are awesome, so i know these photos are gonna be awesome, too.

*marisa's marks: do your research! there are a TON of companies out there that offer all different types of photo booths. also check with your wedding photographer & see if they do a combo. (i'm also gonna plug my friend callie's genius idea-- the guestbox -- this is an amazing video guestbook, and if i was getting married in atlanta it would have been a no-brainer!)


day 15: engagement pics!

so yesterday i talked about picking your wedding photographer, and how excited i am for my company (once like a spark). a few weeks ago, (olas) photographer leslie captured some pretty incredible shots of jeff and me.

we wanted to get a few of those "awww, that's sweet" classic engagement shots, and chose to go to the 9th floor of the icon for those -- it has a great view of the nashville skyline and some fun areas to play in. but we also really wanted to think outside of the box. and we definitely did just that! we are registering (well, technically you can't "register" there - but we're doing a wish list / asking for gift cards) at west elm. and we both love that place - the style, the vibe, it's just us. so i had the crazy idea to take pictures in there. i know, crazy. i went by the store to ask them, and at first they really did think i was insane. they told me that the manager would get back to me, and, well, we all know how that goes. so 3 days later i went back. (hi, my name is marisa, and i am persistent) and lo and behold, the manager was there... i shared my idea and she loved it! she told us to come by around closing time and we could have the place to ourselves while the employees finished out the night.
and it was awesome. we had a blast just being goofy & completely random.

so, here are a few of my favorites -- keep in mind these are just the previews and the hi-res versions are coming to me soon. but, this will give you a glimpse! (and yes, those are lampshades on our heads! like i said... random.)

*marisa's marks: my number one advice is to HAVE FUN! engagement pics are a great way to capture this season of your life (and so it's not that the only quality photos of you are just in your wedding dress!) -- get creative!!


day 14: photography.

i've gotta admit that i love where wedding photography has gone over the last few years. my friends who got married just 5 years ago didn't have near the options or variety that's out there now. (but, of course, lots of great options can make choosing your photographer more challenging.)

i knew all along that photography was going to be a priority in my budget. it's literally the only thing that lasts after the day of your wedding, and people that know me know that i love capturing moments on film. over the years i've been making mental notes on photos from friends' weddings that i just adore, and i've really started to notice the difference between a good photo and a great photo.

(once like a spark) came across my radar in multiple ways right before i got engaged. some friends had used them in their wedding, and their photos came up in my facebook newsfeed, and i heard the notwedding was using them as their photographer. their pictures were gorgeous ("classically beautiful with a little touch of whimsy and a lot of charm"), and i gotta admit -- i had a crush on their website. and i just loved their team approach to things -- everybody focuses on the job they do best, whether that's coordinating, editing, or actually taking the pics. and they have photographers in a bunch of different cities {ps nashville has leslie, who i just love!} and then i come to find out the sisters that started it went to my high school! small world. so i booked them soon after we were engaged & have been thrilled with every step of the process so far. we actually did our engagement pictures with leslie a few weeks ago & i can't wait to show you! (hint: tomorrow's post! eee!!)

some other great wedding photographers out there include anchor & eden (my friend callie and her brother - they're great!) and my friends christine, carrie, quinn, & skip all are super talented, too!

*marisa's marks: take your time to research all different styles & approaches to wedding photography. also think through any photographers you know. there are a lot of people trying to get better in this area, and this could be a great place to save money if you're willing to give a beginner a shot! also look for deals if you pay your total all up front and/or buy an engagement package, too -- don't be afraid to ask for a discount!


day 13: wedding blogs.

one of the best ways to get ideas for your wedding is subscribing to some WEDDING BLOGS. and boy oh boy are there a bunch of them out there.

some of my favorites include:

*marisa's marks: pick your top 5 wedding blogs to put into your google reader (or other rss feed) -- that way you keep track of your favorites without getting too overwhelmed! and fyi -- style me pretty has some awesome photos of beautiful weddings, but way too many posts -- don't subscribe to them if it overwhelms you to have 30 unread posts in your feed!


day 12: {get crafty} scarf bouquet.

you guys knew it wouldn't be too long until i mentioned fashionABLE in my 31 days somewhere. well, i'm excited to share a fun idea -- using scarves to make a bouquet! we had partnered with the notwedding a couple months ago, and the talented ladies at muncle fred art made the toss bouquet out of our scarves!

there are a lot of ideas of ways to get creative with "typical" items like a bouquet -- i've seen bouquets made of brooches, felt, you name it.

here's a little tutorial the girls did to show our fashionABLE readers how to make one -- it's surprisingly not that complicated... and only uses scarves!
see for yourself if you want to try this at home... (obviously you could use any kind of fabric).

*marisa's marks: explore etsy to get inspired. then sit down and ask yourself "could i create this myself?" a lot of times it just takes some dedication and motivation (and time). give yourself some craftiness credit!


day 11: {tuesday tunes} ceremony.

so last tuesday we talked about the music pre-ceremony. this week it's all about the songs that you use during your actual ceremony.

this includes the seating of the mothers (prelude), both the bridesmaid and bridal processional... and then the recessional (when the bride & groom leave together). then there can be special songs at different points in the ceremony, such as after exchanging the rings & vows, or taking communion.

of course, like any aspect of your day, there are a ton of opinions out there. there's the traditional route (you know, canon in d, jesu joy of man's desiring, and of course trumpet voluntary) which is usually classical. and then there's the thinking-outside-of-of-the-box route, which really has no rules, and depends on the couple.

jeff and i both want our wedding to be a worship celebration that God has called us together to be one in marriage, so music that evokes worship and praise is important to us. we're in the process of listening to hymns and songs that stir us and are in the search for what best represents the story God is writing with us.
and being as immersed into the music community in nashville that we are, we are lucky to have our pick of some pretty talented singers & songwriters. it's narrowing it down that's the hard part!

here are a few i've loved for the ceremony the past couple of years...

*marisa's marks: pick songs with meaning for you as a couple. the music is a great way to personalize your ceremony.
do you have any favorites?