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Wedding Planning

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He popped the question. You said “Of course!”
Now there is a wedding to be planned!

But who will you have beside you on this wedding planning journey? Your hubby-to-be? Yes, but he will probably only be interested in a few details of the day and all of the other decisions will be yours for the choosing….and that, my lady, is where your family and bridesmaids come into play. There are PLENTY of decisions to make while planning your wedding day, and you need a dependable squad to help keep you positive and be the tie-breaker when you love two different shades of blue just as much as the other.

So how do you select your ultimate Bridesmaid Squad? What is the difference between a Maid of Honor, Matron of Honor, and a Bridesmaid? And what are the bridesmaids responsibilities?

We are about to knock out each one of these questions in this one post (PLUS we have a few fun ideas for asking your gals to be part of your Bridesmaid Squad) – are you ready? Let’s do this!

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Question 1:What is the difference between a Maid of Honor, Matron of Honor, and a Bridesmaid?

The Maid of Honor is traditionally a sister or best friend of the bride. This person is the bride’s right hand throughout the wedding planning process. She is sort of the “captain” of the bridal party. She helps the bride corral the bridesmaids and keep them organized and on schedule. She often gives a speech at the rehearsal dinner or reception. It is a lofty title that comes with a lot of responsibility and this should be taken into account when selecting the person to fill the role. Will they have time to accompany you to things you need help with? Are they a good communicator? Is their regular life already too busy for them to fulfill the duties of this role?

A Matron of Honor either partakes in or shares the responsibility of the Maid of Honor, except the primary difference is in some circles, THIS person is an already married advisor. She’s been through this process before so she can provide some insight.

A Bridesmaid is a member of the wedding party as one of the bride’s close family members or friends. They lend a listening ear, give advice on décor and music. In some instances, they organize (and often foot the bill for) the bridal shower and/or bachelorette parties. They help with registries. Some of the best bridesmaids I’ve seen act as the Bride’s Ambassadors; they man the guestbook at the reception, they’re social, they guard the gift table, they dance with great Uncle Joe from the Groom’s family even if it’s out of reluctance. This role sometimes comes with considerable cost if they are going to be responsible for bridal showers and the like and this is also something that should be kept in mind before you pop the other big question.

Question 2: How do you select your ultimate Bridesmaid Squad?

The Bridal Party should be YOUR #squadgoals. It’s composition should consist of people who mean the most to you, have shaped who you are and been influential in your life or will be in your new family. Sisters, cousins, aunts, nieces, best friends, neighbors and the like should make up your bridal party. It’s also ok to ask people that are close to the groom that you love and respect as well (i.e. his sisters) if you feel comfortable. The other big thing to keep in mind in time and money. Will they have the time to make it to fittings? Are they close to a location of your chosen seamstress or dress shop or are they too far? Can they pay for their gown (if you aren’t footing the whole bill)? You don’t want to ask someone who more than likely can’t and put them in a situation that they’ll feel bad about having to decline your offer or put themselves in a bad spot trying to meet the obligations.

Question 3: What are a Bridesmaid’s Responsibilities?

While we did touch on some of the responsibilities when we explained the differences in each role, we want to go a little more into detail and stress the fact that this isn’t a one size fits all list. Just like every wedding is unique so is every bridal party and as such, so will be the responsibilities of those in it. In some wedding parties, those whose accept roles are not responsible for paying for their own attire, let alone any parties or showers. In some wedding parties, just the Maid of Honor pays for the Bachelorette party. It’s all really up to you, as the bride.

That said, typically, bridesmaids are responsible for helping pick their gowns and paying for them. They usually split the cost and organize the bridal shower (yes, this often means coming up with toilet paper dress games and that kind of thing. But don’t fret. It really is a blast). Your biggest responsibility as a bridesmaid, however, is to provide moral support to the bride. Be there when she needs you. Give advice, but remember this isn’t your wedding. Provide feedback and be honest but be mindful of the Bride’s feelings. When she gets frazzled, comfort her and offer to step in. Because that’s what friends are for and Bridesmaids are that and then some!

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BONUS: Fun Ideas on How to Ask!

  1. Store bought kits
    With the advent of “promposals”, Bridesmaid proposals weren’t far behind. A few retailers, like Bed, Bath & Beyond have jumped on the bandwagon and carry items like Kate Aspen’s boxed set that includes a cute mug, some sunglasses and lots of glitter. Of course, there are others out there, but the general idea is cutesy swag will always get an excited “yes!”

 

  1. Homemade Kits
    Like the store bought kits above, some brides choose to go the personalized route and make swag bags with things that they know their friends will like, novelties that hint at inside jokes, and more. It’s a customized twist on the above idea that may score you some extra squeals with that yes. Check our PINTEREST PAGE for some fun inspiration!

 

  1. Dinner Date
    Make your next girls’ night a little more to celebrate by asking your friends to play a vital role in the first day of the rest of your life. Nothing says “I want you to be in my wedding” like wining and dining.

 

  1. Special Delivery
    All of us like getting flowers and or candy out of the blue. The only way to make that sweeter is if its accompanied by an offer you can’t refuse, like standing behind your friend as she takes her beau’s last name! Send a bottle of wine with a glass that pops the question for you or maybe just a nice card with a half dozen of roses. With the myriad of delivery services available at the tips of our fingers today, this would be a breeze!

 

How did you ask YOUR bridesmaids, or what ideas do you have? Comment and let us know!

If you are anything like me, the cool in the air gets all the butterflies in your stomach going in anticipation for an exciting time of year – the holidays! I am normally a procrastinator of gift purchasing, but this year I am trying something different and trying to purchase gifts for our family early so I can spread out my spending over the next few weeks. Genius right? It’s taken how many years to figure this out?

To help you stay ahead of the game as well, I have created the ultimate Christmas gift guide to get presents for your favorite bride! Hand selected with brides in mind, this gift guide will not only help them prepare for their upcoming wedding, but also help them build a beautiful marriage. Enjoy!!

For Your Favorite Bride

1 – Southern Weddings Joyful Wedding Planner

The Southern Weddings Joyful Wedding Planner is one of the best wedding planning tools we have found to date! You can read our review of it here: Joyful Wedding Planner Review
Get yours here: Southern Weddings Joyful Wedding Planner

2 – Love Story Journal

If I had to recommend the top two gifts for your favorite bride, the Southern Weddings Joyful Wedding Planner is definitely number one, but number two is this baby! The Promptly Love Story Journal is one of the most treasured things I own. In it, couples document not only their wedding day, but when they met, memories from when they were dating, memories from the proposal, and then…ya’ll…memories every year after. You can update it over the course of the year or pull it out on your wedding anniversary and update it then.

I seriously can’t wait to do a proper review, but you can find out more (and order one for yourself or for a couple this holiday) here: Promptly Love Story Journal

3 – Val Marie Paper – Marriage Creed Journals
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These journals come in a set of two, one for him and one for her. They are such a special keepsake and would make a great stocking stuffer!

Order your set here: Val Marie Paper – Marriage Creed Journals

 

4 – Yearly Prayer Journal

This Yearly Prayer Journal is a great place to dig in and focus your prayer life in on what is most important to you and your family. This option includes a section for each month of 2018, as well as a few other goodies.

Order yours here: Val Marie Paper – Yearly Prayer Journal

5 – Wedding Day Journaloh-happy-day-wedding-journal-southernweddings

Similar to the Promptly Love Story Journal we shared above, this Wedding Day Journal from Southern Weddings, is a place to document wedding day memories. (This option does not cover as much as the Promptly Journal, but is more specific to the actual wedding day.)

Order one here: Southern Weddings – Wedding Day Journal

Stocking Stuffers

1 – Southern Weddings Magazine – Volume 10

This beautiful magazine is so much more than just a wedding magazine! You will find wedding inspiration as well as special tips for wedding planning and making not only your wedding beautiful, but your marriage focused and intentional.

Order yours here: Southern Weddings Magazine

2 – Womens Undated 6 month Prayer Journal
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This prayer journal is similar to the Yearly Prayer Journal by the same company, but covers only 6 months at a time and is undated for you to fill out as you go.

Order one (or a few for your favorite ladies – BRIDESMAID GIFT ALERT!!) here: Val Marie Paper – Women’s Undated 6 Month Prayer Journal

3 – Everyday I’m Sparkling’ Tote

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Order your tote here: Thimblepress – Everyday I’m Sparklin’ Tote

4 – Push Pop Confetti

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Order yours here: Thimblepress – Push Pop Confetti

Affiliate links are used in this post.

 

 

 

Lovely lovely friends. I am SO EXCITED to share this beautiful gem with you all! I have been a fan of J.Lynn Designery for a while now, so when I saw that the newly married lady in charge collaborated with Ribbon Events to create this beautiful wedding planner, I just had to check it out.

So here it is! I went through each section of this planner and wrote down all the cool features I think you will love and find super helpful! Plus, I included plenty of images for you to take a look at all the gorgeous details!! 🙂

Let’s do this!

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The first impression – I LOVE that there is a spot to write the couples name on the opening page! We all know how much we love to write our name on that first page of the planner and this little touch helps draw the focus from planning a wedding all by yourself, to the fact that this special day is for the both of you! Also, I really like that there is a small section to write down a few things about you as a couple (like your engagement story!! This will be so fun to look back on!) and what you are looking forward to on this journey. Also, there is a nifty pocket up front to keep things you get over the course of this wedding planning journey.

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Engagement Timeline – This section is broken up into things to do to prepare for your big day! I love that it is set up as a checklist so that you can check off things as you get them accomplished – plus, there are a few lines to add in your own random “to do’s” that come up along the way. One small detail that caught my eye was the “book hair/makeup trials” – which we think is super important to do and best to schedule with your bridal portraits! That way you not only get your hair and makeup just how you like it, but you also get to put on and wear your dress around for a couple hours – which is THE BEST run through to make the wedding day getting ready process go smoothly!

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The Planner – I have two very favorite sections in this wedding planner and this is the first one! This section is the largest section of the planner, and breaks down into many important “mini-sections” for things like Budgeting, Venues, Stationery, Attire/Beauty, etc. I am so excited to share with you how super helpful these are!! Just like your wedding, the good stuff is in the little personal touches 😉 I also love that at the end of each of these sections there is a spot to write the information for the vendor you ended up booking per that category!

  • Budgeting – I love the breakdown for the budget. It covers all the bases, but isn’t overwhelming. There is also room for you to add on things specific to your budget!

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  • Venues – This mini section has spots for certain details about both the ceremony site and reception venue, so when you bring this perfectly sized planner with you to meetings (or keep in next to you as you search online) you have an idea of things to ask/look for!
  • Stationery – This section is super helpful! It has a section with invitation essentials and a list of things like programs, signage, table number, etc. so they aren’t forgotten and are planned for in advance!
  • Attire/Beauty – Oh my, checklists are so very nifty! This section makes sure you have all the things you need with you on the day of your wedding (gown, veil, garter, day-of bag, something old, new, borrowed and blue, etc.) AND it also has similar checklists for your bridesmaids, groom, and groomsmen!
  • Catering and Bakery – Okay, so the beginning of this section is set up lovely just like the rest of the categories, but I did not understand what exactly went in the meal/menu purpose so I got clarification that this portion was “designed to be a place for couples to write in their menus for the wedding day/weekend; for instance, at a more traditional wedding, this would include the Rehearsal dinner menu and Reception lunch/dinner menu; but I know couples often do a morning-after brunch or maybe another wedding meal event during the weekend, and so we included multiple slots for this info so it could be as flexible as possible for recording the finalized menu.”
  • Additional sections – Music (has cute activity suggestions as well!!!), Photography/Videography, Florals/Decor, Honeymoon (great place to keep your flight/hotel/car rental info)

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  • Then another great section is the Wedding Day Timeline, Roles, and Transportation – This section includes a page with timeline essentials and a space to add in a time and details about that specific thing! SO helpful to have this handy when you are planning your timeline to make sure you don’t miss anything important as you lay it out! Other things I love in this section include: Day-Of Duties – which is a great reminder that it is SO important to delegate duties for the day of the wedding (and before) and let people help you! This section helps you think of tasks to delegate people to, as well as keep track of who is supposed to be doing what. On that same thought, the Day-Of Contacts in addition to the Day-Of Duties is a great way for someone like the Maid of Honor to help delegate things on your wedding day so you aren’t stressed!

wedlove-wedding-planner-getinspiredguide-louisiana-weddingGet Inspired – This section is so cool! First, I have to say I LOOOOOVE the detail of the information here – you learn a lot about the different areas but you aren’t overwhelmed with text. In the photo above you can see what I mean a little bit with the Color Palettes – but the Floral Guide ya’ll – this section has not only a painting of the flower but the season its good to find that flower in, the name of the flower, the price point, and color spectrum for that flower!

Other mini-sections in the Get Inspired portion include: Modern Etiquette (helpful for addressing envelopes, setting up your registry (GREAT suggestions in the notes for this!!), setting the table (with a chart that tells you how to know what size cloth you need for what size table…ya’ll I told you this planner is super helpful!), centerpieces (DESSERT CENTERPIECES – yes please!), wedding websites and hashtags!

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Then our last lovely tab would be The Notebook section, and ya’ll one of my FAVORITE features is the fact that there are so many (but not TOO many) blank notebook pages throughout this planner, in each section, for you to write down notes about that particular area. But in the back there is a whole section for you to write down ideas, sketch things out, or questions to ask vendors, etc.

BONUS – Hidden in the back of The Notebook section is a super cute mini-section called Let’s Get Married, where you get to wrap up your wedding planning journey with your favorite photo from your wedding day and write some prompted favorite memories from your wedding!

Over-all
This wedding planner has a beautiful, clean design that helps you plan without being overwhelmed with text and information! You fill things in, instead of reading through pages and pages of info. It is also a PERFECT size to keep with you in your purse or on your desk. I highly recommend bringing this with you to work (in case you get a call from a vendor or family member with questions about the wedding), or in case you need to stop by for a meeting with a vendor throughout your day. Last, like I mentioned in the notebook section, I love that there is plenty of space to write things down so you don’t have to have a separate notebook for additional things – everything just stays there together!

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We love these beautiful wedding planners so much that we will now be selling them here on our site and over at our studio downtown! Head on over and pre-order yours today and receive a special gift from us, until September 28, 2016!

We know you will love this wedding planner just as much as we do!

As you begin planning your wedding, one of the very first decisions that you will need to make is selecting a wedding date. When you go to reserve your wedding venue or photographer, having a date selected will be pretty important for them to confirm they are available to work with you.

Now, if you have a date that is special to you and your honey then selecting a date is one of the easier wedding tasks. If not, however, well….it’s honestly still not that hard of a task, but might seem like a random shot in the dark without a bit of help.

When I was planning my own wedding, I remember riding in the car with my new fiancé (that is so fun to say huh? Go ahead, give your ring finger a wiggle…you know you want to!) and reminding him that we actually had to pick a date to have the wedding on, so of course he literally just started throwing out dates from the top of his head. The first date was some time in May of the following year and that was a no go because I would be in the middle of my college finals and graduation at that was not going to work. So he suggested June…the month after graduation. With graduation over by then, June seemed like a good enough choice. But June what? He randomly throws out June 12. Sounds good, but is that even a Saturday (which for as much I knew was when weddings typically occur)? It was! So June 12 became our date. That was it. We literally just pulled a date out of thin air. Later, we found out that June is probably the most popular month to get married and if we lived anywhere else, I might have had trouble securing a date with some vendors.

I share all this to say, I want to put 5 years of wedding experience to good use and help you select your perfect wedding date with a little bit more information than a random luck of the draw.

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8 Tips To Select Your Perfect Wedding Date in Southwest Louisiana

  1. Figure out how long you realistically need to get this wedding planned.
    Here are some things to keep in mind:
    – If you are planning a huge wedding that you have been dreaming of since you were 4 years old and are planning on inviting a lot of guests, you will probably need a good amount of time to plan. But if you are more of a “lets get married in my parents backyard and boil crawfish after” type of couple then you might be able to swing a shorter engagement period.
    – Typically the average length of an engagement (your wedding planning timeframe) is about 12-6 months.
    – In the example I gave previously, I mentioned that I was finishing up my final semesters of college when we were planning our wedding. Factoring in future events like my graduation, we planned our wedding for 9 months ahead. Look ahead a bit and see what events you might need to plan around.
  2. Narrow down your choices. Is there a time of year that you prefer more than others? Is there a time of year that you absolutely know won’t work? Write these down.
  3. Remember, we live in Southwest Louisiana. Generally, the most popular months for weddings are May, June, July, August, September and October. Majority of these months are summer months and it gets HOT in Lake Charles, LA during the summer. So keep our local weather in mind when planning your wedding. To do so, I found this awesome and very helpful chart that gives yearly averages for the rain amounts and temperature. In Lake Charles, according to the chart, February, March and April are the months with the least amount of rainfall and have the nicest temperatures. The temperatures drop again during Fall of course, but the average rainfall is still consistantly pretty high. When I was first searching for this chart I was thinking “You only need to know the weather if you plan an outdoor wedding” but then I realized, no…it’s good to consider it even for an indoor wedding since you might want to take photographs outside and need to travel to and from as well. With that said, remember – it’s Louisiana and our weather is crazy unpredictable.

    Just pray for beautiful weather and don’t stress about things we can not predict or change.

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  4.  Avoid holidays. If you would like to have your wedding in April, take an extra step and check when big holidays like Easter fall that year. A lot of times families are traveling out of town for holidays, and some churches may be booked up with holiday related events around that time. While you are considering the surrounding holidays, remember that some of your venues may be decorated for holidays – is that a plus or a minus for you?
  5. Weekends generally mean more people are off work, but weekdays might be cheaper on your pocketbook. Since the majority of couples book weddings on a Saturday, or weekend in general, there is more flexibility with vendors to offer a weekday wedding at a discounted rate.
  6. Honeymoon prices may be cheaper during the “off season.” If you head off on honeymoon after the holidays, or during the winter, your travel prices might be lower. This however, isn’t the case if you are planning on going somewhere tropical in the winter since a lot of people who live, you know where they actually have snow and stuff for winter, will actually be traveling to warmer weather for a break from the frigid weather. Chat with a travel agent if you plan on traveling for your honeymoon and need an idea of the best times to travel there.
  7. When planning the time of day for your wedding ceremony, take meals into consideration. If your reception is going to fall around lunch or dinner time, then you might feel obligated to feed your guests a full plated meal (and they will be hoping for it since they will most likely be hungry). Scheduling your wedding to fall around these meal hours can help save some money as you serve hor d’oeuvres or brunch, instead of a whole plate.
  8. Consider the time of year it will be and what time the sun sets. With Daylight Savings time, depending on the time of year you choose, the sun may either set super early (around 5 pm) or later in the evening (around 8 pm). When the sun is setting earlier, you will want your ceremony to finish between 1-2 hours before sunset to make time for formal family portraits, as well as the very important newlywed portraits of you as man and wife. When you are planning a wedding where the sun is setting later in the evening, you have more flexibility to come back outside and get those couple portraits after your reception has started, which is a bonus.

So basically, we broke this down from time of year, to month, to choosing a day of the week, and finally time of day. We took upcoming events into consideration, as well as weather, any holidays, and personal preferences. With these tips in mind, you and the love of your life should have an easier time selecting the perfect date for your Southwest Louisiana wedding!

So, did you get a date picked? What tips did you find most useful in selecting your final wedding date?

Is It Bad Luck To See Each Other Before the Wedding? - The Louisiana Wedding

With the option of a first look becoming more popular, more and more brides want to know whether it really is bad luck to see each other before the wedding. If you are new to the whole wedding scene, you might not have even heard of a “first look,” but chances are you have believed, or do believe, that it is bad luck to see each other before the wedding. It’s not surprising to find out that the soon-to-be-wed couples parents are the number one supporters of hiding out before you walk down the aisle. But you might not be so convinced when you find out where this wedding tradition comes from.

The Tradition

Let’s get right to it! The custom of waiting to see each other when you walk down the aisle actually comes from the days of arranged marriages. When marriages were arranged, it was primarily a business transaction between two families, and very common for the bride and groom not to meet each other until they said “I Do.” In fact, the brides veil would cover the her face as well, ya know, just in case the groom decided to hit the road running instead of going through with the deal.

Sidenote: This totally makes me think of the story of Jacob, Rachel, and Leah found in Genesis 29 of the Bible. Jacob had actually met both Rachel and her sister Leah previously, but he fell in love with Rachel and agreed with her father, Laban, to work for 7 years to have her hand in marriage.

“So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.” – Genesis 29:20

*Swoon* Romantic right? Then the drama comes…..when the big day finally rolls around, Laban sneaks Leah (the eldest daughter) in to consummate the marriage instead of her sister Rachel. Obviously, Jacob was pretty upset about this, but Laban was like “Hey, no biggie finish out your week of marriage festivities with Leah and then you can marry Rachel as well, if you agree to work for me for 7 more years” (which he did of course because he was so smitten).

The First Look

Is It Bad Luck To See Each Other Before the Wedding? - The Louisiana Wedding
Photo by Emily and Daniel Photography – www.emilyanddaniel.net

Okay, so what is this “first look” thing? This is that special moment when the bride and groom first see each other in all their wedding day glory. Custom has been that the first look happens when the bride walks down the aisle, which of course has to do with the whole “bad luck to see each other before tradition”. But more and more couples are choosing to select a time to first see each other before the ceremony.

What are the pros and cons of seeing each other before the ceremony?
Okay, I’m going to be honest. I can not think of any cons except your parents might get upset, or you just might feel very strongly against it. What one might assume to happen, would be that the surprise factor is gone, or your groom might not get as emotional when you do walk down the aisle. But the moment when the bride walks down the aisle really is the emotional climax of a wedding and its hard not to grin and tear up no matter who you are. 9 times out of 10 the groom STILL gets emotional when the bride walks out even if they got to spend some time together before that moment.

So the pros: The biggest pro is that you get to spend some quiet time together before all of the wedding activities begin.

“..many brides and grooms deliberately seek an opportunity to be alone in the hours before the ceremony. A few quiet moments together can be wonderfully refreshing, and a lovely new tradition to adopt.” – Emily Post’s Wedding Etiquette, Edition 6, pg. 78

This is such a big thing! Once the ceremony begins you will officially be swept up into a whirlwind of wedding activities, and depending on how social you and your guests are, you honestly might not get to spend a long amount of time even looking at each other. Spending 30 minutes alone (in the company of your wedding photographer and videographer of course), is such a precious time on such an emotional and exciting day. It’s like a breath of fresh air.

In addition to some precious time together, the first look is a perfect time to get some beautiful portraits of just you two. These are the images you will cherish most. These are the images you will want to hang on your wall! Don’t get me wrong, these portraits can be captured after the ceremony as well and they are just as special – but the significance of photos before is that you will spend less time taking those portraits later. This helps you go from ceremony to reception nearly just as quickly as your guests. In fact, after you have some quiet time and get some photos taken together,  you can invite your bridal party in and get photos with taken as well. [Usually, its quite difficult to wrangle all the family together before the ceremony, so these usually work best taken immediately after.]

All in all, the decision is up to you and your soon-to-be spouse. It’s best to take some time and discuss your preferences as far in advance as you can, since this will help you finalize what your wedding day timeline will look like. To help you discuss this topic, we have included a special download for you to print out and write out your personal pros and cons about first look photos!

In the meantime, we’d love to know what your initial thoughts are on the first look and/or waiting to see each other until you walk down the aisle? Let us know in the comments below!

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Since day one, I have been itching to share this beautiful Southern Weddings Planner with all of you! I truly believe it is one of the best tools you can have along with you during your wedding planning journey! So much so, that we gift each and every one of our own wedding clients with this planner to help them as they begin planning not only their wedding, but their lives together.

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The Southern Weddings Planner was created by the beautiful ladies behind Southern Weddings Magazine.

The mission of Southern Weddings is to inspire brides to cultivate a life full of love — celebrating their families, the culture of the South, and what matters most to them — and then to draw from that rich well to create a meaningful beginning to married life.

With that same purpose in mind, these lovely ladies have created a very meaningful wedding planner to encourage brides to plan marriages more beautiful than their weddings.

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This wedding planner is full of wonderfully helpful tools to help you plan every aspect of your wedding. One of my favorites being a handy checklist with suggestions of what to take care of 12-9 months before your wedding, 9-6 months before your wedding, 6-3 months before your wedding, and 3-0 months before your wedding. Ya’ll, this thing is not only helpful it is absolutely beautiful! So much love and thoughtfulness went into every detail.

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Southern Weddings Planner Highlights

I wanted to share a few highlights from the planner with you as well, so I will briefly go through each of the 10 tabs and share just some of the handy things you can find inside:

1. Gathering Inspiration
What a beautiful place to start…dreaming. This section includes a brainstorming worksheet and many places for gathering visual inspiration. This is one of the many places for you to grab those bridal magazines you have laying around (or coming to your doorstep) and build a real life Pinterest board of your wedding. We always find such great ideas on Pinterest, but there is nothing like cutting and pasting together by hand your own dream board of ideas!

2. Budgeting – This is something that needs to be tackled very early in the wedding planning process because it sets the stage for so many questions and decisions to come. This wedding planner helps you sort through and decide your priorities for your wedding, gives you a budgeting spreadsheet, a vendor pricing guide (so you have at least an idea of what certain vendors charge), and lots and lots of tips and suggestions!

3. Working with Vendors – One of the most intimidating parts of planning your wedding can be choosing your vendors. It is so important that you are well informed about each person you work with and we can’t suggest enough how important it is to meet them face to face and make sure that you feel comfortable working together. The Southern Weddings Planner gives you the tools to prepare for those meetings with tips for working with different vendors, general tips for finding and hiring vendors, and a place to keep track of all your meetings and the information you gather. One of my other favorite parts of this section is that it includes sample wording for your stationary such as Save the Dates, your invitations, reception cards and response cards.

4. The Look – Yes, the dress! The dresses, tuxes, hair, makeup, shoes, and jewelry – this is another spot for you to dream and plan! Some of the things this section includes are an inspiration guide for dress types and spots to collect important measurements and notes about each of your bridesmaids and groomsmen.

5. Planning Your Ceremony – The ceremony will be one of the places where you might have to make a lot of decisions and answer a lot of questions. Some of the things the Southern Weddings Planner includes in this section are a basic ceremony structure (so you have an idea of what all a ceremony could include), common rituals and traditions that go on during the ceremony, questions to ask, tips for writing vows (with examples!), and a place to plan out a timeline.

6. Planning Reception – Usually you get to relax and enjoy the party a bit more during the reception! This section includes tips for choosing your meal, seating arrangements, traditions that go on during the reception, and song selection for those significant parts of the evening (like your first dance, father-daughter dance, bouquet toss, etc.)

7. Gracious Southern Bride – In true Southern Weddings style, they have included a section on southern hospitality, sending Thank You notes, and gift suggestions for your spouse, bridesmaids, groomsmen, parents, and vendors.

8. Logistics – This section includes information you will find super helpful for building a timeline for your wedding day, booking transportation, booking room blocks, and getting your marriage license. The little things that must be taken care of! (We also highly suggest checking out our recent post with specific information for getting your marriage license in the Lake Area!)

9. Marriage Planning – Okay, this is my favorite section of the whole Southern Weddings Planner, and honestly it is one of the most important parts of the whole wedding planning experience. This section is all about you and your spouse-to-be and how you can make your marriage even more beautiful than your wedding day. This is so important, because this is what it is all about! The wedding is the celebration of your marriage, and your marriage is the beautiful life you are beginning together. This section includes fun questions, suggestions of things to do together (to just enjoy each other and take some time to relax during this whole process), 10 hints for a happy marriage, a name changing checklist, and an anniversary gift guide.

10. Appendix – This is the last section and are the final useful tidbits for planning your wedding. Some of the things this section includes are southern traditions, a rehearsal dinner guide, registry tips and a list of sources that the ladies from Southern Weddings highly recommend checking out.

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Hands down, we believe this is a must have for every bride! Whether you are a bride who stumbled upon this post, mother-of-the-bride, or know someone getting married, we highly suggest checking out the Southern Weddings Planner and all the fun things the ladies of Southern Weddings have going on. We started the Louisiana Wedding blog to help Lake Area brides plan their weddings and build beautiful marriages, and we believe that Southern Weddings is doing that for couples all over the south as well!

If you would like to find out more about the Southern Weddings Planner (or purchase one for yourself, or a bride you know and love) you can do so here.

The links in this post have been updated to affiliate links.

Image by Tademy Photography - www.tademydandp.com
Image by Tademy Photography – www.tademydandp.com

What do you think of the Southern Weddings Planner? Do you want one for planning your own wedding? Do you have one already – what do you think? We can’t wait to hear how the Southern Weddings Planner has helped you!

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We recently released a survey asking some Southwest Louisiana wives to share their own wedding experience for our readers. (We couldn’t be more thankful for the ladies who took the time to share their experience and advice with you all! ) One of the big questions we asked was “If you could recommend that couples focus their wedding budget on just two things what would it be, and why?” The number one answer we got to this question was photography. The reason? This was what they still have to look back on…these were the memories of their wedding day.

Here is a nifty chart with all of the answers, we thought you might like to know what the other answers were ;)
Here is a nifty chart with all of the answers, we thought you might like to know what the other answers were as well 😉

One of the questions I see most often when couples are searching for a wedding photographer is: Why are wedding photographers so expensive? One might even assume that they charge a lot just “because they can.” In reality, photographing a wedding is A LOT of work. The actual act of photographing the event (and engagement + bridal portraits before) are the fun part! For 10 hours of actual photographing work, there are 3 times the amount of hours in post-production, meetings, designing, and setup. Just like you commit hours planning your wedding over a long period of time, your wedding photographer is committing a significant amount of time to your wedding as well. This, and the fact that photographs of your wedding will be what you have for memories of your day after the wedding, are something to keep in mind when you are planning your budget for photography.

In a previous post, we shared a tip for budgeting that we absolutely swear by. When my husband and I were planning our own wedding we chose to pick two things that meant the most to us to focus majority of our budget on. For my husband it was planning a great honeymoon so we could relax after a busy few months of planning our wedding, and enjoy the our first few days together as man and wife. For me, number one was the photography. Five years later, we have no regrets. Our wedding was a wonderful day that was so special to us, and the photographs we have to look back on remind us of how great it was each and every year. In fact, now we get to share those memories with our children!

 

“While your wedding is “the big day,” in the end, it does draw to a close. But your memories live on for the rest of your lives, strengthened through your wedding photos. Years after minor details are forgotten, your photos will be there to remind you, vividly bringing back the joy and importance of your wedding, and ready and waiting for you to show to your children and grandchildren. That’s why choosing the right person for the job is so important.”
Emily Post’s Wedding Etiquette, 6E

 

Since we all agree that this is a very important decision, we wanted to take some time and share 6 tips to help you book the perfect wedding photographer for your wedding.

Tip 1 – Make sure their work matches your preferred style.
This is a biggy. Chances are you have looked at a few different photographers websites or you have pinned a few favorite shots on Pinterest. A photographer selects images to show online that they feel best represents their work (these are usually the type of images that they enjoy photographing the most). As you were looking through your options, chances are you were drawn to at least one photographers work more than the others. If you enjoy the photographers work, it is probably a great idea to schedule some time to meet up with them and learn more about what they have to offer. Remember, you can’t expect another photographer to photograph like the “photographer you wish you had”. Each photographer has their own style!

Tip 2 – Make sure your photographer is experienced in photographing weddings.
I would love to say that price can help you differentiate between an experienced photographer and someone just starting out, but that is not always the case. It is an excellent idea to ask the photographer how many years they have been specifically photographing weddings, and maybe even how many weddings they have photographed themselves. Unlike a normal photography session, weddings have a lot of variables – a lot of which happen very quickly and can’t be easily replicated. The more experience a photographer has photographing weddings, the easier it is for them to know what to expect next (which helps you out a lot of times, because chances are this is your first time participating in the back end of a wedding), and know what to do in situations when fast decisions need to be made. You may be thinking, well everyone has to learn right? Yes, but most serious photographers will spend years second shooting weddings with more experienced photographers to learn and get the experience needed to start taking on weddings by themselves. On such an important day, lots of previous practice is the best way to get learning experience. When they start taking on weddings themselves they will still have a few things to learn, but at that point they will have a strong and secure foundation to build on.

Tip 3 – Ask what the turn around time is for getting your photographs after the wedding.
It is so helpful to ask this upfront. Once the wedding is over, you will be anxiously waiting to see professional photos from your wedding day. It is a great idea to find out the expected turn around time (and write it down somewhere so you can look back at it later) so you aren’t tempted to anxiously reach out to your photographer very week to see if they are finished. Sometimes photographers will post previews, which are super fun to look at while you wait for them to wrap up everything on the backend. The turn around time for wedding photos vary for photographers. It is important to realize is that actually photographing the wedding day, or even engagements or bridal sessions, are only a very small part of the photographers job. The real work comes in the hours of editing, selecting, and preparation after a session – in addition to other business tasks. But every photographer has a process, and should be able to let you know when you can expect the images to be all finished up and ready for you to view.

Tip 4 – Make sure they are licensed, insured, and have a back up plan.
While a degree in photography is not necessary to run a photography business, a business license is. A committed photographer will have taken the steps necessary to run their business according to the legal requirements (getting a business license, collecting and filing taxes, etc.). Along the same lines, it shows good business practice if your photographer is properly insured. Digital photography is very forgiving since we now have the opportunity to instantly view the images and tweak details as we see fit, but we all know that technology can give us trouble from time to time. It is important to make sure that your photographer has a back up plan for such situations – such as a backup camera and proper insurance to fix gear in case issues arise.

Tip 5 – Make sure that you and your fiancé are a good match with your photographer.
It is so important for you to schedule time to meet with your photographer. Your photographer will spend a very large chunk of your wedding day right alongside you – so make sure that you enjoy being around them. Get to know them and what they stand for. Taking time to visit with them before you book, will help you SO MUCH in the long run.

“No one else has such VIP access to the couple throughout the wedding day, and the right photographer isn’t just one who knows his or her craft; you’ll also need someone with whom you have good chemistry and who you can trust to do a good job.”
– Emily Post’s Wedding Etiquette, Edition 6

Tip 6 – Make sure you trust your photographer.
This may seem like common knowledge…of course you wouldn’t ask some shady person to take your wedding photos. But in our search for a photographer for our own wedding, my husband and I ended up booking a photographer whose work was inconsistent and whom we didn’t feel as comfortable with, just because they were cheaper. We didn’t get very far along in the relationship before we realized – this was a big mistake. To make a long story short, we thankful ended up realizing that having someone there that we trusted and had the experience needed to capture our wedding day, was the most important part of the entire process. We booked the more expensive and experienced photographer we trusted and we decided that we could make the money work for the peace of mind and beautiful memories we would have after our wedding was over. Along the same lines, you want will want to work with someone who honestly enjoys what they do, loves weddings, and is excited to celebrate this day with you.

BONUS TIP – If you are having a larger wedding, look into hiring a photography team with multiple shooters.
One experienced photographer will get all of the important details of your day, but two experienced photographers will get the details from multiple viewpoints and perspectives. This is not to be confused with hiring two separate photographers – that is NOT something that tends to work out very well for anyone involved. But there are a few local photographers who work in pairs (usually a husband and wife team). These pairs work well together and their styles compliment one another making one beautiful finished body of work. Similarly, many individual photographers will also hire second shooters to shoot with them on wedding days (hopefully the same person that they have experience working with and trust). While this is an extra expense, it is nice to have someone there to help throughout the day – making it possible to be in two places at once.

Visit our Photography Vendor page to view some local photographers we recommend looking into!

 

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Do you have any other tips for booking your wedding photographer – or – a favorite Lake Charles, LA wedding photographer you would like to rave about? 

 

Photograph by Leroy Tademy Jr. of Tademy Design and Photography
Photograph by Leroy Tademy Jr. of Tademy Design and Photography

Sometimes final planning details pop out of no where…like getting your marriage license! It may not be one of the most “fun” wedding planning tasks, but it must be done. Here’s what you need to know about getting your Marriage License in Lake Charles, LA:

Before you purchase your Marriage License, you are required to get an identification waiver
Unless you would like the office to keep your birth certificate (as they will be required to do by law otherwise), you should stop by and get this waiver from the 14th Judicial District Judges Offices (1001 Lake Shore Drive – 3rd floor, Lake Charles, LA 70601). You will need a state issued ID (driver’s licenses) or birth certificate to obtain the waiver. Their hours are 8:30 am-12 pm or 1:30-4 pm.

– The license is good for 30 days. 
This means that your wedding ceremony must be within 30 days of the purchase date of the license. So, you probably don’t want to be too much of an early bird with this wedding task.

Most officiants will return your marriage license for you.
This is super helpful if you are heading off on your honeymoon directly after your wedding.

– There are a few things you will want to bring along with you: 
1. Proof of identity – Drivers license or birth certificate
2. $27.50 in cash for the marriage license fee – (they do not take bills larger than $20)
3. Optional – your fiancé; you aren’t required to both be present to get your marriage license, unless one of you does not have a social security number – that person will be required to be present. If you happen to both be free, totally make it a date and get the wedding work done then head over to Botsky’s or Pujo Street Cafe for lunch.

Where to go:
The official address is 1000 Ryan Street, but we recommend entering from the back entrance on Pithon Street (the back of the building displayed at the top of this post). Once you enter the Clerk of Court office from Pithon Street (a big brick sign reads “Calcasieu Courthouse”), there will be an elevator to your left that will take you up to the 2nd Floor. Once on the 2nd floor, take a left and walk down until you see a door surrounded by two large white columns. The door reads “Room 5 – H. Lynn Jones, II Clerk of Court.” There are signs listing Marriage Records & Licenses all along the way – which is super helpful! Hours of operation are 8:00 am – 4:30 pm.

How long should you expect to stay?
This really depends on how many people are there. I would say at least plan for 10-30 minutes. You will fill out the application form (if you have not already filled out the form online – we did not have luck getting it to work even with an updated version of Adobe Reader), they will do their magic, and you get your marriage license minutes later to take with you.

– If you have been married previously, you must know the month, day, and year of your divorce or the death of your previous spouse to obtain a new marriage license.

– Corrections can only be made before your ceremony and the fee to do so is $10. NO CORRECTIONS can be made once you are married!
Another reason why timing is very important for this wedding task.

If you need a certified copy of your license after the ceremony, you will need to purchase one from the Clerk of Courts office for $6.

– There is a 3 day waiting period for your license “to take effect,” but this can be waived at the Judges office (if needed).

The marriage ceremony must be performed in the State of Louisiana.
We were very interested in finding out a bit more about this since we know some couples choose to have destination weddings. According to the Clerk of Court you must be married in Louisiana (or docked in Louisiana water) for the marriage license to be valid. If you are married outside of the state, you must file a marriage license for the state you are married in. Your marriage will need to be recorded in Louisiana as well afterward.

Information gathered from the Clerk of Courts website and the helpful ladies in the office.

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