7 Tools That Will Save You 5+ Hours Each Week

By Heidi Thompson

Most of the time, when people say they’re too busy, they’re just not organizing their tasks properly. I hear people tell me all the time how hard it is to keep up with their email or social media or about a million other things, but it’s not if you use the right tools and approach it strategically. There are lots of tools that will help you make the most of your time but these 7 tools easily save me 5 hours per week at the very least. That’s a bare minimum of 20 hours per month or 240 hours per year. Imagine what you could do with that kind of time!

 

Unroll.me

I subscribe to a lot of emails and I love reading them but they can be distracting. Unroll.me has allowed me to create an actual system for going through all of the great emails I get. Every afternoon, Unroll.me sends me a digest of the emails I got in the form on 1 single email. That allows me to take 30 minutes to go through it all at once at a time that works for me. If you use Google Apps to host your email, check out Unroll.me here.

 

Buffer

Social media can be a huge time-suck for people and it’s easy to get lost in it. That’s why I knew I had to figure out a way to scale back the amount of time I spent on social media while still sharing great content. I had been using Hootsuite to schedule posts but it’s not the easiest way to schedule them so that didn’t stick. I came across Buffer and it has totally changed the way I use social media. It let’s me schedule posts to my Twitter account, Facebook page, Google+ profile and LinkedIn profile with the click of a button. Now I only spend about 30 minutes each week scheduling my social media posts.

 

Google Calendar

In order to make sure I get everything done, I use Google Calendar to manage my schedule. I actually make appointments with myself and treat them as appointments with other people. Let me explain. If I know I need to write 3 blog posts this week, I’ll put a 2 hour appointment in my calendar. Now I’m not meeting with anyone but if I schedule it, I know I’ll do it. Also, I’m horrible in the morning so if I don’t have my day planned out the night before, I’ll just be totally lost until about noon. When I start my day, I can see exactly what I need to do and when so I don’t have to waste any time figuring that out.

 

ScheduleOnce

Do you find yourself going back and forth with people trying to decide when to meet? ScheduleOnce lets you make your calendar available to whoever you give the link to. They can choose a few times for you to approve which elimates the back and forth emails trying to choose a time.

 

iDoneThis

iDoneThis keeps me accountable and reminds me just how much I have accomplished. At the end of the day I get an email from iDoneThis asking me what I got done today. It connects to Google Calendar which keeps me accountable to the appointments I’ve made there. When I feel like I’m not getting anywhere and I’m just spinning my wheels, I can refer to iDoneThis and see all the things I’ve actually done. If you have an assistant or a team, they can report what they accomplished too.

 

SelfControl (Mac only) or Freedom

When you don’t have self-control, these apps force you to. Both of these apps will block out distractions (like Facebook, email, whatever you choose) for a set amount of time and they will not allow you to access them until that time is up. No more getting sucked into Facebook or watching cat videos and wondering where all the time went!

Trello

Trello is a great tool that allows you to see everything that you need to do, are working on and have done already at a glance. It’s incredibly flexible and works like a digital whiteboard. Creating a board for each wedding you’re working on could be a great way to stay on track

Everything You Need to Know About Champagne

These tips may be from 1979 — but bubbly smarts know no decade.

By Samantha Toscano

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Breaking out the sparkling cocktail isn’t just about hoping the cork doesn’t hit someone or popping in a few strawberries because that’s what they do in the movies. And the proof is in our December 1979 issue.

Added fruit aside, here’s what you absolutely need to know before the bubbly starts to flow and the fun begins:

Why It Bubbles

Champagne begins as a still wine and is made sparkling by a second fermentation, creating natural effervescence. In the traditional French method, the second fermentation takes place in the individual bottle — more expensive champagnes in the United States are made this way as well. With less costly American champagnes — labeled “bulk process” or “Charmat process” — the second fermentation takes place before the wine is bottled.

 

The Many Varieties

Natural: Dry, no sweetness. Fine as an aperitif. Pair with seafood.

Brut: Dry, little or no sweetness. The most popular type, fine for general entertaining. Perfect with every course and as an aperitif.

Extra Dry: Faintly sweet. Good with desserts, fruits.

Dry, Sec, and Demi Sec: Fairly sweet. Good for afternoon, evening refreshment, with desserts.

 

Shopping Guide

A 750-ml. or 25.4-oz. bottle of champagne, the most popular size, yields six to eight glasses. If you need more than one bottle, the 1.5-liter magnum bottle is the better buy — it has the same neck, air space as a smaller bottle, more wine. For a toast, you can figure on one glassful per person. For an aperitif, one or two glasses per person. For dessert, one glass for each guest is usual. For an evening of entertaining, plan on a third to a half of a 750-ml. bottle for each guest.

 

 

Storing Guide

Store bottles in a cool, dark place where temperatures do not fluctuate widely. Lay the bottles on their side so the cork doesn’t dry out, allow air to enter, wine to leak or spoil.

 

Serving Guide

Use elegant stemmed glasses:  the traditional flute, or tulip- or egg-shaped glasses. They show the bubbles rising in a continuous stream and concentrate the wine’s aroma. Avoid saucer-type “champagne glasses.”

Cool bottles ahead: The best way is to let the bottle sit in a pail half-filled with ice and water for about 30 minutes. Or, chill (don’t freeze) bottles about three hours in the least cold part of the refrigerator.

Open bottles carefully: To avoid wasting wine. Don’t shake the bottle; hold it in one hand with the other, remove the wire muzzle. Now, slightly tilt bottle away from you and hold cork firmly while rotating the bottle itself. Pull bottle down gently and slowly to reduce internal pressure. Cork will come out with a soft “pop,” with no loss of froth. Wipe off the rim before serving.

Pour with finesse: Tilting each glass to keep foam or “mousse” from spilling, fill the glass a quarter full; let the “mousse” settle. Continue until glass is two-thirds full.

The Meaning of Every Rose Color

By Lauren Piro

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A Rose Isn’t Just a Rose

You’ve probably heard that “a rose is a rose is a rose,” but while perfectly poetic, the Victorians wholeheartedly disagree. Flower meaning dictionaries were quite popular during the Victorian era — for instance, pink carnations meant “I will never forget you,” and chrysanthemums meant “truth.” Though people didn’t necessarily send secret messages through buds and bouquets, the meanings were still important to people during that period.

We think this bit of historical trivia is pretty charming, so we explored this recently published flower dictionary to discover the meanings behind different kinds of roses — so you know exactly what you’re getting into if you give flowers this Valentine’s Day.

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Red Roses

If you planned on delivering this classic choice to your significant other, you’re in luck. It means “love.”

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White Roses

But maybe save these babies for a melancholy moment. They mean “a heart unacquainted with love.”

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Pink Roses

Deliver the gift of “grace” when you send a friend these sweet blooms

5-peach-rose-meaning-lgnPeach Roses

These bashful beauties signify “modesty.”

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Purple Roses

A quirkier hue calls for a quirkier meaning; violet shades lend themselves to “enchantment.”

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Burgundy Roses

Though it may not be as striking as the classic red rose, this deeper shade is more subtle and represents “unconscious beauty.”

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Orange Roses

An energetic, curious color comes with a meaning to match: “fascination.”

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Yellow Roses

You wouldn’t think it cruel to gift someone a bouquet, but these sunny flowers imply “infidelity.”

Bridal Shower Ideas: The Guide To Throwing A Brilliant Bash

By

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Plan a party the bride-to-be will never forget.

Where, when and how to plan the best bridal shower ever.

Your best friend is madly in love and getting married! And though it’s a pity to lose your favorite wing-woman to her Knight in Shining Armor, what’s better than months full of parties leading up to the big day? Or at the very least, months full of wine, excuses to dress up and hellooo, groomsmen?

So while she’s in charge of taking care of everything else (like seating charts, invitations and writing her vows), planning the most unforgettable bridal shower has fallen into your hands.  So while she’s in charge of taking care of everything else (like seating charts, invitations and writing her vows), planning the most unforgettable bridal shower has fallen into your hands.

But where the hell do you start? From ideas and trends to décor, invites and games, here’s how to hit it out of the park when it comes to shower planning.

Why have a shower? The shower is exactly what it sounds: Showering the bride with presents off her registry. After he pops the question (and you guys pop the champagne to celebrate), the bride- and groom-to-be register for all the things they’ll need in their new household, even if they do already live together). Sure, it’s a little 1950s, but that’s the fun of it. It’s a chance to shower the bride with well-wishes and gifts before her strut down the aisle. Plus, she and her groom are picking up the tab on the wedding venue, band, cocktail hour, dinner, the open bar and the fondue fountain, so the least you could do is pick up that Le Creuset she’s been pining for.

When should you have it? You should bank on having the shower at least three months before the wedding, but there are no hard-and-fast rules detailing the day or the time, so have fun with it. If your bride is having a winter wedding, plan the shower for the start of fall so that you can still soak up some of those sunny days and warmer nights. If she’s getting married in late summer, plan an early spring shower. The flowers will be in bloom (think of the photo ops!) and people are less likely to be traveling then.

Where should you have it? Here’s where it gets a little tricky: If your bride is super particular, you might want to clue her in on the planning process, but if she’s not, still keep her taste in mind. The most important thing to remember? It’s about her not you (sorry!), so make sure the venue matches your bride. If she’s having an informal outdoor wedding, planning a low-key picnic shower might work really well, but if your bride is planning a black-tie only affair, it’s a good idea to plan a shower locale that matches the tone of the wedding venue. And if you’re hoping to surprise the bride-to-be, it’s okay to ask for suggestions on where she’d like to be showered in cookware, but keep mum of the final choice.

Whos in charge of what? Typically, the mother of the bride (and the mother-in-law) have a fair say in how the shower is handled, but that doesn’t mean the ‘maids are free of responsibilities. It’ll be the maid of honor’s duty to act as the ringleader for the event. She’ll be in charge of making sure there’s party favors, games and enough food to feed the guests. Just don’t forget it’s a shared responsibility.

It’s probably best to make a general to-do list ahead of time and split up the tasks so everyone’s in charge of something and this way, nothing gets left behind or doubled up.

Think of a theme If you’ve been following along with your bride-to-be’s Pinterest, then you probably already have a good idea of what your shower theme should look like. If you haven’t, here’s a quick tip: It should mimic the style of the wedding in some way. For instance, if you’re going to be carrying Gerber daisies down the aisle, splurge for daisy centerpieces on the tables and flower seeds as a favor. Crisp white linens and delicate floral touches keep the theme cohesive. But you don’t have to use the floral arrangements as your guide. If the bride is planning a beach wedding, opt for beach-friendly snacks and treats, and if the wedding is a black tie affair, try working a black and white color scheme into the party mix. Whatever you plan make sure it stays true to the bride’s vision. She’s the one you’re aiming to please!

Decorating tips Again, décor depends on the theme, so figuring that out should be first and foremost on your to-do list. Décor should match the theme as well as your bride, so if she wouldn’t love it, it’s safe to say you should skip it.

Do you need a guest list? Okay, so you’re not planning a Saturday night at the 40/40 Club, but you still need to know who to expect. Start out by stealing a copy of the master wedding guest list, once it’s finalized. You’ll only want to invite the ladies you plan to have at the wedding. Yep, that means you’ll need to invite everyone from Great Grandma Bee and the groom’s third cousin Susie to your friend’s pesky coworker. A tip? Start a Google Doc to keep track of whose RSVP’d and who you’re still waiting to hear from. On the day of the shower, print it out and keep a few pens nearby. You’ll need to keep track of who gifted what, so the bride can write her thank-yous.

Do we have to be polite? The short answer is yes, because you’re spending the afternoon surrounded by faces you’ll likely see again (at the wedding), so you don’t want to leave a sour taste in anyone’s mouth. The long answer is that though we’re living in a modern age, weddings are still incredibly traditional, so people expect a certain type of behavior. A good way to differentiate? Be a lady at the bridal shower and a freak at the bachelorette. Okay, fine, not exactly what Ludacris sang, but still, it’s useful.

Games You don’t have to plan tons of games (especially if your bride isn’t the gamey type) but a few tongue-in-cheek quizzes to pass the time are usually appreciated (and fun!). The best times to play? Before the main meal is served and before dessert. It helps break up the party and won’t distract guests from the main event — the gifts!

 

 

Christmas Wedding Ideas

Above all, the holiday spirit of togetherness magnifies what’s already supposed to be one of the happiest days of your life.

These amazing photos from real weddings submissions really speak for themselves. Enjoy—consider them a gift from us to you. Good luck to all of our holiday brides!

 

Photo Credit: Hoffer Photography

Bridal Looks

Dramatic lashes, scarlet lips, and a high neckline with just the right amount of skin (keyhole backs are on-trend): This bride pulls it all off effortlessly.

Photo Credit: Bethany Ann Photography

Float down the aisle in a gown with textured tiers that are light as snow.

Photo Credit: Jessica Svoboda Photography

A gilded gown with intricate embroidery is a regal choice for Christmastime brides.

Photo Credit: Sarah Crowder Photography

It’s hard to say what caught our attention first—the ruched bodice-embellished skirt combo or those unexpected pine cones! I call a tie.

Photo Credits (from left to right): Jason Kaczorowski Photography and Rachel Pearlman Photography

Put the finishing touch on your gown with a ribbon belt featuring clusters of crystals.

Photo Credit: Ashfall Mixed Media

Or, if you prefer a more understated look, consider this chic floral sash. The silver beads give it extra flair.

Photo Credit: Maria Angela Photography

Darling bows add a girlie touch to these red-hot heels. Display your accessories on a gold object to make them really pop in photos.

Photo Credits: Rachel Pearlman Photography

According to ancient folklore, the Druids regarded holly as a sacred plant and believed it had magical powers of protection. What better plant to include in your groom’s boutonniere?

Photo Credit: Bethany Ann Photography

Does your groom have a quirky sense of style? A patterned vest or tie helps him stand out from the groomsmen.

Photo Credits (from left to right): Bethany Ann Photography and Robin Nathan Photography

Personally, I’ve always thought that red bridesmaids dresses would be tough to pull off, but this photo converted me. The cherry shade looks ultra-flattering on all of the ‘maids skin tones.

Photo Credit: Bethany Ann Photography

Live in a warm climate all-year round? Consider a light, breathable fabric for all of your bridal party attire. The tucked-in hair flower is a carefree touch.

Photo Credit: Life’s Highlights

I can envision my feisty flower girl, Viviana, refusing to take off this dress (pictured at right) at the end of the night. Adorn the most adorable member of your bridal party with a floral sash or back-tied bow. A faux-fur bolero keeps them warm and toasty!

Photo Credits (from left to right): Hoffer Photography and Katie Stoops Photography

These little guys stole the show with their knee-high socks, suspenders, and a hat Grandpa would wear.

Photo Credit: Jason Kaczorowski Photography

If you prefer a darker color palette, add some holiday cheer with matching red pumps.

Photo Credit: Corlis Gray Photography

Cocktail-length bridesmaids dresses for Christmas? The glittering cuff and bold bouquets make it work.

Photo Credit: Rachel Pearlman Photography

If you’re blessed with a White Christmas where you live, blow some snow into the camera for a memorable photo, like this one! (Save the hijinks until after the ceremony, so that you don’t get any wet spots on your dress).

Photo Credit: Hoffer Photography

Midnight blue tuxes are made all the more dapper with plush scarves. We’re loving how easy it is to spot the groom.

Photo Credit: Hoffer Photography

Ceremony

One of the biggest perks of being a Christmas bride is that if you’re getting married in a church, it will already be decked out in all its splendor, so you don’t have to order as many flowers and other décor.

Photo Credit: Hoffer Photography

Photo Credit: Shoreshotz

Light up your walk down the aisle with festive pew decorations (alternate them on different rows to cut costs).

Photo Credit: VP Studios Photography

At this evening wedding, each bridal party attendant carried a pillar candle as they made their way towards the altar.

Photo Credit: Hoffer Photography

Buy hurricane candle holders in bulk and fill them with sparkling votives and crystals.

Photo Credit: Shoreshotz

Recreate this stunning backdrop with massive candles in different shapes and sizes.

Photo Credit: Bethany Ann Photography

Reception

This intricate and budget-friendly centerpiece is proof that you don’t need to go overboard with flowers to transform your reception space into a Christmas wonderland.

Photo Credits: Rachel Pearlman Photography

The garland-wrapped staircase makes a picturesque room even more breathtaking.

Photo Credit: Corlis Gray Photography

Display your invitation on a mantel, surrounded by thick garlands and ornaments. Next Christmas, you can display the photo of your invitation on that very same mantel, as a fun reminder of your wedding day.

Photo Credit: VP Studios Photography

Whether your Christmas style is more subtle (patterned snowflakes) or bold (green calligraphy and wax seals), there’s invitation options for everyone.

Photo Credits (from left to right): Shoreshotz and Sarah Crowder Photography

Rhinestone-encrusted roses and evergreen make this low-lying centerpiece a standout.

Photo Credit: Rachel Pearlman Photography

Give rustic pillars an upgrade by wrapping them in twinkling lights (ask your venue for permission first). A fleet of reindeer is a fun addition to any party. The ones shown below are whimsical without being too literal or over-the-top.

Photo Credits: Rachel Pearlman Photography

Make a dazzling first impression on your guests when they walk into your reception space. Stack gift-wrapped favors underneath a towering Christmas tree. Or, if you’re not planning on giving out favors, you can gift-wrap empty boxes to create the same scene.

Photo Credit: Corlis Gray Photography

Miniature snowflake frames guided guests to their tables.

Photo Credits: Rachel Pearlman Photography

Fun Details

Include your favorite holiday tunes in the music playlist for a rollicking good time. One New Year’s Eve bride we interviewed recently had her first dance to “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” by Zooey Deschanel and Leon Redbone.

Photo Credit: Corlis Gray Photography

Pinpoints of light make for an extra-memorable first dance.

Photo Credit: A Magic Moment

A snowflake placemat enhances the shine of your new wedding ring.

Photo Credit: Shoreshotz

If only rings grew from pine cones and trees…

Photo Credits (from left to right): Rachel Pearlman Photography and Kristen Hornberger Photography

Even the most reserved elderly relative won’t be able to resist cracking a smile in these holiday-themed getups. Rudolph ears, anyone?

Photo Credit: Hoffer Photography

Dash away, dash away, dash away all. If we can’t have Santa’s sleigh, then we’ll settle for a colorful trolley or bus to transport guests, instead.

Photo Credit: Corlis Gray Photography

Holiday Treats

When an all-white cake is illuminated with light, it’s easier to spot patterns and delicate details that might be missed in a darker setting.

Photo Credits: Shoreshotz

A five-tiered dessert masterpiece with its own VIP area isn’t in my budget. However, anyone can steal this trick and enhance their cake with a lush tablecloth—no six-figure digits required.

Photo Credit: Jaxon Photography

Make a basic cake look more ornate by placing it on a decorated crystal stand. You can rent the cake stands from a wedding rental shop, bakery, wedding coordinator, or website (check out RaisetheCake.com). Or, make it a fun DIY project and create your own with craft supplies and rhinestones.

Photo Credit: Corlis Gray Photography

Learn how to recreate a similar optical illusion here!

Photo Credit: Hoffer Photography

Photo Credit: Rachel Pearlman Photography

Which photo is your favorite? How are you celebrating Christmas with your loved ones this year?

10 Suprising Facts About Weddings

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                                                                                                                Photo: Getty Images

By Jessica Hagy

The bouquet; the garter toss; that something blue pinned to your dress: Have you ever taken a second to consider the purpose of all of these deeply instilled wedding traditions? Probably not because you’re busy planning a wedding. But since we’re wedding fanatics that fall asleep dreaming of napkin rings and invite fonts, we took the liberty to dig around and find 10 fascinating facts about the wedding traditions we’ve all come to know.

1. Turns out it’s your “ring finger” for a reason. Engagement and wedding rings are worn on the fourth finger of the left hand because it was once thought that a vein in that finger led directly to the heart.

2. Queen Victoria is credited with starting the Western world’s white wedding dress trend in 1840 — before then, brides simply wore their best dress.

3. If your bridesmaids are less than thrilled about matching dresses, tell them they’re good luck! The tradition of matching maids dates back to Roman times, when people believed evil spirits would attend the wedding in attempt to curse the bride and groom (how rude). Bridesmaids were required to dress exactly like the bride in order to confuse the spirits and bring luck to the marriage.

4. On a similar note, brides traditionally wear veils because ancient Greeks and Romans believed they protected her from evil spirits.

5. The tradition of a bride wearing “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue,” comes from an Old English rhyme. Something old represents continuity; something new offers optimism for the future; something borrowed symbolizes borrowed happiness; something blue stands for purity, love, and fidelity.

6. The tradition of a wedding cake comes from ancient Rome, where guests broke a loaf of bread over the bride’s head for fertility’s sake.

7. Ever wondered where the phrase “tying the knot” came from? In many cultures around the world — including Celtic, Hindu and Egyptian weddings — the hands of the bride and groom are literally tied together to demonstrate the couple’s commitment to each other and their new bond.

8. If you thought we were over the spirit thing, think again. According to tradition, the groom carries the bride across the threshold to valiantly protect her from evil spirits lurking below.

9. June weddings are not a new thing. The Roman goddess Juno rules over marriage and childbirth, hence the popularity of June weddings.

10. Honeymoons weren’t always so luxurious. Ancient Norse bridal couples went into hiding after the wedding, and a family member would bring them a cup of honey wine for 30 days — or one moon — which is how the term “honeymoon” originated.

How to make white pumpkin centerpieces

Pin It

An autumn wedding does not need to be associated only with orange, red, and brown. I found some lovely white pumpkins that can create the perfect vase for an all-white wedding. They are so easy to make that you’ll want to use them all year round.

Materials: white flowers of your choice, white pumpkins, knife, flower clippers

Pin It

Step 1: Like normal jack-o-lantern, cut a circle into the pumpkin. Don’t make it too small or too wide. Too small might look a bit funny with flowers in it, and too wide might make them fall out.

Step 2: I left all the seeds inside so it would be easier to stick the flowers in.

Step 3: Put some water into the pumpkin for the flowers.

Pin It

Step 4: Criss-cross the flowers so they hold their shape like above.

Step 5: Keep on criss-crossing until the pumpkin has a nice shape of flowers.

Pin It

Done! Aren’t they just the cutest?

Project and photography by Brittany Watson Jepsen of The House That Lars Built

Lobster Boil Party

by Tori

Who says you cannot have a lobster boil in a landlocked state? When event planner Morgan Wetherington (from Nashville, TN) reached out to share this Luxe Lobster Bash I was day dreaming of my own seafood soiree. My favorite elements are the lovely lobster water color paper items and the use of nautical rope. Take a look at the amazing photos:

 

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From Morgan:

Barbeque is the typical southern fare, but we opted for lobster for this upscale dinner party. For this New England inspired lobster boil, we used a color palate of cherry red, navy, and shades of cream. The La Tavola red rope linen was the perfect choice to include the theme. We incorporated nautical rope, starfish, and of course lobster. The client’s home provided an ideal outdoor space for the venue. We wanted to create a guest experience, everyone loved cracking lobster and flowing conversation.

 

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With each individual place setting, all guests needed to enjoy their lobster was an appetite.

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Seasonal cantaloupe, snow peas, and corn on the cob accompanied the lobster. No dinner party is completed without a bar, we even designed a bar area that included a special “Captain Jackson Cocktail”. Each guest left with a seafood seasoning favor to continue the celebration from home. This is a great event concept for any point in the summer whether it is 4th of July or Labor Day.

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Styling, Photography, Paper Products :: Commerce Street Events
Linen :: La Tavola Fine Linen
Tableware :: Corzines
Venue :: Private Nashville Resident

Choosing a Planner: Classic Bride Blog Bridal School

Originally posted on Commerce Street Events:

You may remember our guest post on Classic Bride Blog kicking off our bridal charm school. Our team will be sharing the entire process of planning a wedding from start to finish! We will be dishing on welcome boxes, dress shopping, and much more.

For a newly engaged bride, we suggest finding your wedding planner first. This makes the whole process easier for everyone including vendors.

2014-07-02_0003Deciding on a Wedding Planner
First, the couple must decide what they are looking for; there are many different types of planners. There is month of, full service, designers, and coordinators. Also, this depends on the couple’s budget. Full service will obviously be the most expensive and month of the least expensive. These are all options to weigh when interviewing planners. The same advice for picking a wedding photographer applies for planners. A planner is going to be involved in a very intimate event in…

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