Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Edible Wedding Favors

I am completely torn when it comes to wedding favors. I love the way a good favor can look, it is an easy way to make your wedding a little more extravagant, and a nice way to thank your guests for coming, again, just in case a full meal, open bar, toast thanking your guests and a nice hand written thank you card wasn't enough.

I think if you are going to do favors they absolutely have to be done right, because let's face it, we have all gotten something we have tossed. It may be hard to believe, I mean of course you two are awesome, but guests will probably not listen to a CD of your favorite love songs, will not hang that framed photo of you two in their house, and probably wont be busting out the glasses with your names and dates monogrammed on them.

The one thing guests do all like though is something tasty to eat, especially after a night of drinking and dancing. The best thing about edible favors is you can have almost anything, they can be pricey, cheap, handmade, store bought, the opportunities are literally endless. Here are some of my favorites:

These would be the cutest thing ever packaged up in teeny bakery boxes.
{Miniature pies photographed by Open Air Photography, styled by Merriment Events and Miss Pickles Press, via The Bride’s Cafe}
Chelsea styled a beautiful Christmas dinner table with fruit centerpieces and accompanied the citrus tablescape with favors of lemon curd.
{Photography by John Valls of Altura Studio}
Suzy canned jars of green beans and finished with vintage fabric and raffia.
{Leigh Webber}
Olive oil favors would be perfect for an intimate restaurant wedding, or a wedding that centers around amazing food and wine.
{Gene Higa via Project Wedding}
Delicious S mores Favors
{Meg Perotti}
100 Layer Cake and Sunday Suppers collaborated on a beautiful Fall Harvest tablescape which included chestnut favors.
{Photography by Karen Mordechai}
Ellen from The Long Thread whipped up peppermint bark as a holiday gift, but it would also be perfect as a winter wedding favor!
Melissa baked six flavors of biscotti for her guests.
{Erin Johnson}
And of course an edible favor post wouldn’t be complete without jars of honey.
{Photo by Stephanie Colgan from Karima and Aaron’s wedding on Snippet & Ink}

What are your favorite edible favors?  Did you whip up something delicious for your wedding?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Out of Town Bags

An Out-of-Town bag is a package of gifts, treats and information given to out-of-town guests to make them feel welcome. They can be as simple or as elaborate as you wish, but the goal should always be to show your guests that you appreciate them taking the time out of their normal schedules to travel to your wedding celebration.

In addition to whatever you choose to include, a welcome bag should always include an itinerary of the weekend's events and a handwritten thank you note for attending the wedding (yes, this is in addition to the thank you note you'll send for the gift).

The out-of-town guest bags and baskets above are from Kate Parker Weddings, who also ships them directly to your guests' hotels. If you don't have time to assemble your own baskets, this may be a great option for you. Check with your wedding planner to see if they also offer this service as well, I know I do!  If you're having any children coming in town for your wedding, consider creating a special basket just for them, even if they won't be attending the reception.

The bags can contain local specialties (such as food or beverage items manufactured or invented locally), souvenirs, area maps, tickets or passes to local amusements, etc. Here are some Seattle suggestions:

Popout Map of Seattle, umbrella, local chocolates (Fran's, Theo's, Wind River), coffee gift card (Starbucks, Tullys or Seattle's Best Coffee), stamped post card of Seattle, seasonal fruit from Eastern Washington (cherries, apples), water, Jones Soda, Frangos, Holmquist Orchards nuts, Chukar Cherry candies, Aplets and Cotlets, Totem Smokehouse salmon, Aldrich Farms jam, Boeing glider toy, gift card, a copy of the local newspaper (Seattle Times, Seattle PI or the alternative magazine, The Stranger), radio station guide, ferry schedules, Almond Roca, Mountain Bars, chocolate covered coffee beans, Thomas Kemper root beer and Gary Larson Farside Cartoons.

The bags can be left at the hotel where the guests are staying and the front desk will usually distribute them to guests upon arrival. The decor of the bags can match the theme of the wedding.
You can also add some standard items such as:
  • Itinerary outlining all wedding-related activities
  • Contact name and phone number in case anyone has questions (Assign a good friend or family member to be the primary contact, so you don't have to field the calls - but also include the engaged couple's cell numbers for emergencies)
  • Bottles of water & snacks. Wedding guests that are staying at hotels will appreciate not having to pay the high prices at the mini bar.
  • Maps or tourist info for the local area. Visit your local chamber of commerce or visitors bureau; they can provide plenty of handouts.
  • Local coupons (to outlet stops, tourist attrations, etc.)
  • A CD and self-addressed mailer for guests to return the pictures that they took of their event to you when they return home
  • Copy of the local newspaper (hotels usually only provide USAToday)
  • Stamped postcard (although you may want to draw attention to this elsewhere to people realize it is already stamped)

You can be creative! Here are some great looking bags!
pictures courtesy of good things creations, paper persuasions, I do it, asleep to dream, and dc nearlyweds

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Cake Stands Should Stand Out!

I recently came across an amazing site, Raise The Cake. You can now forget the tired etched silver cake stand rental! Brightly colored and textured cake stands can match your wedding theme and feature the attributes of your confection, making an elaborate tiered cake even more so or enhancing a small, simple design with added height and interest. Raise the Cake’s online studio allows you to design your stand by selecting a fabric (matte, satin, silk) and color and embellishing it with an assortment of pins, buckles, and broaches.

 See their work below and then check them out!

Raise the Cake,, 888-753-1152, $50-$250

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Used Wedding Dresses

Wedding dresses are an extremely expensive one-time-use item, and often bride’s compromise getting a dress they don’t love because, well let’s face it we can’t all afford a Vera Wang, Jim Hjelm, or whoever your favorite designer is. Consider a pre-owned wedding dress to keep expenses down (and who doesn’t want that these days?) and to reduce the impact on the environment. Yeah, I know most wedding dresses don’t end up in landfills, but it keeps the stuff in the attic to a minimum.

This New York Times article discusses the financial advantages of preowned wedding dresses:

Even previously owned high-end couture gowns from designers like Vera Wang, Monique Lhuillier, and Amsale sell for 25 to 80 percent or more off the original retail price, giving brides a realistic alternative to finding “something affordable without sacrificing quality,” said Nina Willdorf, the author of “Wedding Chic: The Savvy Bride’s Guide to Getting More While Spending Less” (Perigee Trade). “Smart shopping to find value for less is really chic right now,” Ms. Willdorf said. “It’s not like buying a used sweater that’s been worn for years. A wedding dress has been worn once and only for a matter of hours.”

5 places to find your pre-owned wedding dress online:

Don’t forget about eBay, Craigslist or your local secondhand or thrift shops. There are some excellent bargains to be had out there.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Must Take Wedding Pics!

I can't even say how many times a bride has asked me for a must take picture list, or how many times the couple has been reviewing their wedding photos and said "I can't believe we didn't get that!" If you have a good photographer they should know the list, they should discuss it, they should point you in the right direction.
However since more and more brides are cutting costs by hiring amateur photographers, friends or family members, or photography students, the list is extremely handy to have. Even if you aren't cutting costs it can help give you an idea of what shots you want.

– with all groomsmen
– with each groomsman: (names)
– with parents (names)
– with ring bearers (names)


– with Bridal Party
– with each bridesmaid: (names)
– with friend and coordinator (names)
– with parents (names)
– with parents and sibling (name)
– with entire immediate family (names)
– with ring bearers (names)

Bride & Groom

– with entire Wedding Party
– with each set of parents
– with both sets of parents
– with ring bearers (and one with them and their parents)
– with whole family
– "Thank You" sign
– signing the marriage license


Getting Ready
– bride’s gown hanging on a padded hanger, on the bed, or draped over a chair
– still-life shots of the bride’s shoes, jewelry, something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue
– mother buttoning wedding gown
– putting on the garter, jewelry
– make-up supplies
– candid shots of the bridesmaids getting dressed– father seeing the bride in her gown
– groom getting ready with his groomsmen
– groomsmen putting on boutonnieres
Items(at the ceremony site)
– wedding invitation & program
– detailed shots of the bride’s and bridesmaids’ bouquets
– rings (ring bowls w/ring bearers, on the piano, on the invitation/program)


– exterior and interior shots of the ceremony site before guests arrive
– groom entering with groomsmen
 – close-up of groom’s expression while waiting for the bride
– bridal party walking down the aisle
– ring bearers
– bride with her dad before walking down the aisle
– close-up of bride just before she makes her entrance
– bride and her dad walking down the aisle
– grooms face when he first sees bride walking down the aisle
– bride’s father giving her away
– bride and groom at the altar
– both sets of parents watching the ceremony
– wide shot of the altar, from the guests’ point of view
– wide shot of the audience, from the couple’s point of view
– shot from the balcony (maybe during the sermon)
– close-up of bride and groom as they recite their vows
– close-up of bride and groom’s hands as they exchange rings
– the kiss! – close-up of the newlyweds immediately after the ceremony
– bride and groom leaving the ceremony site


             – centerpieces 
             – guest photo mat   
             – menus  
             – sweetheart or head table   
             – favors   
             – cake   
             – guestbook photomat
– exterior and interior shot of the reception site
– guests arriving and signing the guest book 
– bride and groom arriving
– close-ups of friends and family making toasts
– bride and groom speaking with guests
– bride and groom’s first dance
– bride and her father dancing
– bride and groom cutting the cake
– bouquet toss/garter toss
– newlyweds’ vehicle
– bride and groom leaving the reception

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Clane Gessel Photography

When deciding which vendor to feature this week the first person who came to mind was my photographer Clane Gessel. 
Clane Gessel

Clane is an award-winning landscape and wedding photographer based right here in Seattle. Clane grew up in Kent, Washington and moved to Utah after graduating from high school. Exploring the canyons and rock formations of the southwest, Clane discovered the world of landscape photography.  Clane had no formal photography training, but developed his incomparable technique during this exploration. Clane’s desire to capture the beauty in nature has led him around the country as he continued to search for new places to photograph

After returning to Washington State in 2005, a friend asked Clane to photographer their wedding.  The couple loved their photos and put them online.  Many people saw Clane's unique style, and he has busy shooting weddings ever since.  Clane quickly realized that it is not the equipment that defines a photographer, but it is how the equipment is used.  Exploring creative, out-of-the-box photography techniques, Clane developed a unique style that expresses his artistic vision and captures the essence of his clients.  Five years later, Clane finds himself ranked among the best. 

His style has grown into a distinct brand and his portfolio speaks for itself.  Clane has traveled throughout the U.S. from Hawaii and New York, to Miami and San Francisco capturing the most important moments in people's lives.  He has won awards for his style and praise from all past couples.  He continues to refine he style and try new things, keeping his photography fresh and inspiring. His images are featured throughout the Northwest and in blogs and publications Nationwide. Clane’s passion for life shines through his vibrant and dynamic images.  This passion combined with his unmistakable style has attracted a worldwide audience, bringing in commissions from around the country. Just see for yourself...

Monday, March 22, 2010

Eco Friendly Wedding Dresses and Weddings?

Ok, not to get all hippy on you, but I recently came across designer Olivia Luca offering a hemp wedding dress; beautiful and eco friendly? It almost seemed to good to be true. I recycle, compost, buy local, carpool, and avoid styrofoam at all costs, but the thought of a "green" wedding dress had never occurred to me until now.

Here are 6 amazing designers turning organic and fair-trade fabrics like organic silk, cotton and hemp into stunning wedding gowns.
Gwendolyn Gleason
Gwendolyn Gleason
Rene Geneva

Chrissy Wai-Ching

Morgan Boszilkov

Deborah Lindquist

Olivia Luca

Since I am now all revved up on an eco friendly wedding, and I am always revved up on saving money, so lets roll with it!

One of the core concepts behind the eco-friendly wedding is cutting out the extra stuff - cut back ruthlessly and find inexpensive natural alternatives for otherwise expensive “stuff” that would otherwise find its way into landfills once the ceremony is over.

So, here are 8 ideas for a cost effective AND eco-friendly wedding:

1. Have Fewer Guests

Why its frugal: A smaller wedding is cheaper! Less food, smaller hall, fewer flowers… small is good.

Why its green: Less stuff. Less waste (a lot of food gets thrown out after a wedding - consider donating it to a homeless shelter). Less travel (less carbon and pollution created). Just less, which is usually good for the environment.

2. Wear a vintage or second-hand dress
Why its frugal:
You can find designer dresses for less than half of what a new dress costs, even with alterations

Why its green: Wedding dresses are worn once. Since it takes a lot of effort and energy to make a wedding dress, keeping it in circulation means the original environmental and economic footprint of the dress is lessened

Encore Bridal

3. Use electronic invitations, RSVPs, announcements, etc.

Why its frugal:
Many web sites will handle all electronic invitations for free or for a very small fee. No postage either.

Why its green: Less paper and ink. Paper production is very rough on the environment and electronic communication - especially if it is not printed out - is a better choice.

Notes: You will probably still need some paper invitations for those who are not online - some grandparents, etc, I love frugal, I love green, but I also love beautiful invitations, there is always recycled paper...

4. Use flowers grown in your garden (or a family member or a friend’s garden)

Why its frugal:
Seeds and bulbs are much, much cheaper than cut flowers.

Why its green: Commercially-grown flowers have enormous environmental impact, from the massive amounts of pesticides used to grow and preserve the flowers, to the transportation costs and impact - most commercial flowers are grown in South America or Africa.

Notes: This one takes quite a bit of planning. If you are considering this, talk to several people including the local nursery about the right flowers for the area and time of year.

5. Hire musicians from the local college or music conservatory

Why its frugal:
Music students work very hard and are skilled, and they will work for cheap. A quartet can work for the price of a soloist.

Why its green: Classical musicians generally do not need electricity for amplification, or choose a musician who will play “unplugged”.

6. Honeymoon locally

Why its frugal:
Less travel = less cost

Why its green: Less travel = less environmental impact

7. Keep the favors simple - five sugar-coated almonds is very traditional

Why its frugal:
Enough sugar-coated almonds for 75 people should cost about $30-$40 (depending on where you get them, of course)

Why its green: Food is always a good choice for favours - there’s less chance of waste (kids tend to eat all the leftover favours). Knickknacks tend to accumulate (and accumulate in landfills) and aren’t appreciated by everyone. Some bakeries and cookie decorators will do combined placecards and favour cookies. There are a lot of other options you could consider, like donations.

8. Keep the reception simple (remember simple does not have to mean plain!)

Why its frugal:
Large extravagant banquets are very expensive - anywhere from $50 to $200 per guest. Plus, with a banquet, its harder to mingle with the guests.

Why its green: Less waste.

Keep in mind that the wedding isn’t about the size of the party, it’s about the first moments of the rest of your life together. Make the day uniquely yours by adding in the special touches that make it personal - growing your own flowers is far more memorable than writing a check to a florist. 

You can have a beautiful wedding, reduce costs, and reduce impact. And enjoy the day - it goes fast!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Table assignments or not, that is the question

I am not sure whether it's an effort to cut costs or just to simplify the planning process, but many brides recently have mentioned that they won't be having assigned seating (or tables) at their weddings. And while I am definitely supportive of the movement in the last few years for less than traditional weddings, this is one tradition I firmly support! Seating (or escort cards) are a way to provide your guests direction, something which can be essential especially to those coming from out of town. And I speak from experience here! I recently attended a wedding with my husband where cards weren't used and we only knew a handful of people - all in the wedding party. We were left wandering and feeling slightly unsure of our place.

But guest comfort isn't the only reason to consider the use of seating cards. They are also a relatively simple detail, especially if you forego place cards, that can be used to express your creativity and style. As a lover of all little details, I would incorporate seating cards just for an excuse to do something crafty (and have another element to photograph)! Plus, they're just plain fun, and there's a million approaches to take. Here's just a few...

If you prefer a more traditional folded card approach, why not dress it up with some fun embellishments? I just love the ornament detail on these, and the vintage paper and buttons are so unexpected and pretty!
(photo c/o Gertrude and Mabel Photography via Chewing the Cud)

These are another fave - and really carried out the couple's playful chemistry theme.
(photo c/o Lucida via Once Wed)

Or add a bit of whimsy with these fun pinwheels!
(photo c/o Josef Isayo via Snippet and Ink)

If cost is a factor - and I don't know a bride for which it isn't - why not check off two things at once by combining favors and seating cards? These succulents are sure to be a hit by all guests (and guaranteed not to end up in the garbage).
(photo c/o Erin Hearts Court via Once Wed)

I also very much heart these journals with each guest's name - not to mention the hand stained boxes! And for a barn wedding (or maybe a rodeo theme) these horseshoe favors/seating cards are the perfect thing.
(photo c/o Chewing the Cud)
(photo c/o Tec Petaja)

These hand printed muslin bags are a diy for a very crafty bride, and they remain one of my favorites. Who doesn't love the alternating patterns?!
(photo c/o Martha Stewart Weddings)

And just in case the clothesline isn't your thing - or maybe you have nowhere to hang it - here are some takes on the seating board. So many to choose from!
(photos c/o Kella MacPhee via Snippet and Ink, Benjamin Dell via Once Wed, Union Photo via Once Wed, Martha Stewart Weddings)

The rustic wedding is a trend we continue to see, and these boards are perfect for the northwest bride that wants to capture that look. They have the added bonus of being eco friendly as they're made from reclaimed materials!
(photos c/o Anna Kuperberg via Chewing the Cud, Red Photo Co. via Snippet and Ink, and Kirsten Ellis of Beaux Arts via Once Wed)

So just in case you're one of the brides that was considering leaving out seating assignments, just think of these many varieties and the fun you could be having making yours!