Image Map

Wedding Photographer Round-Up!

31 January 2011

I love pictures: taking them, printing them, scrapbooking them, and sharing them. Still images of moments in your life are essential. When considering a photographer for our wedding Mr. Collier and I knew how important a good photographer is but we also knew that we couldn't afford more than 5% of our budget to pay a photographer for the day.

Referring back to a previous post, I want to reinforce the fact that the decision on a photographer is one of utmost priority. Getting along and feeling comfortable with our vendor is incredibly important but out of all the fantastic photographers, who do you choose?

I started by making a list. I "googled" and searched for local photographers in Nashville as well as skimmed Premier Bridal Magazine or the Enchanted Bridal Magazine. I looked at recommendations from venues, caterers, dj's and even florists (if you bundle you might get a wicked discount). Staying organized is the key to success in this endeavor, really like any in the wedding planning process. I kept my information stored within a spreadsheet similar to the one below. Feel free to utilize this one as a template for your own.
After gathering all of the information in one place, Mr. Collier and I began analyzing the options. Which photographer had the best bang for the buck? Which photographers could we see ourselves working with? When a photographer didn't make the cut for whatever reason I just crossed them off by darkening the row on my spreadsheet.

I recommend using GoogleDocs and separating vendors by tab. That way, no matter where you are as long as you have the internet you will have your wedding documents handy.

Registry #1: Laying the foundation

Mr. Collier and I established a weekend wedding task of starting our registries. Although we are a year out from the wedding, in my mind, it is never too early to start looking. Of course there are some draw backs that must be considered when building the registry this early such as product turnover but by choosing well, Mr. Collier and I hope to avoid this issue. I did some research into the history of a wedding registry and as it turns out,  according to the first official wedding registry was offered by Marshall Fields & Co. department stores in 1924. I have a natural love of Marshall Fields because of growing up in Chicago.

So where to begin? After moving in together last July, our attic is essentially full of duplicate coffee makers, knife sets, silverware, plates, and Tupperware. Our home is a consolidation of our previous single lives  which make it hard to identify things that need to be upgraded. Nonetheless we started walking through each room and made of list of items that need to be replaced and envisioned items that we would like to add to our home. Mr. Collier got creative and suggested that we start thinking abstractly for our registry such as registering for a digital camera/videocamera, our honeymoon, or even Wii games (we just got a Wii). I would completely encourage thinking out of the box here. As with weddings, registries are becoming more and more personal so if you don't want a China set don't register for a China set (although I would recommend it).

A second thing to consider is your guest list. For us, we have a bunch of friends in graduate school, then a population of folks with the standard 9-5 jobs who are more established, then a group that are our elders. We decided that it was the most important to pick gifts within a wide price range so that no matter what the financial situation is of the individual, they could find something they can afford.

I realize it can get touchy when you begin thinking about gifts and asking for things. I certainly began to feel uncomfortable about making a "wish list" for people to pick from. But as I started looking at store websites, I got excited about the possibility of owning that KitchenAid stand mixer (in red of course) or new bedding. And what other time in your life will you have the opportunity to acquire these things? And as far as what to get you as a couple, without a registry your guests will seriously be lost.

There are also some great resources out there to help you build your registry and that even get you started with lists of items to consider. Wedding Channel and TheKnot are great places to start. Be sure to also check with the stores you are thinking of registering with; it seems everyone these days provide some sort of wedding planning materials. Bed, Bath, and Beyond also has a fantastic comprehensive list of everything you could imagine for your home.

Sample list from The Pink Book

I shall continue on the registry process as I get further into it myself. Stay tuned!

Our Wedding Inspiration Board

29 January 2011

After signing on with our wedding planner Sarah,  Mr. Collier and I have started working on details. Sarah suggested that we begin looking through pictures online and in magazines and picking the ones we like for our inspiration board. The object of an inspiration board is to visually mesh all of your ideas together to create generate the overall feeling of your wedding in color, texture, and style. Once you create a successful inspiration board you can actually bring it with you to your consultations with the florist, baker, caterer, and other vendors to give them a clearer picture of what you, as a couple, are imagining. Inspirations boards aren't just for weddings but can be applied to any aspect of your life, sort of like a scrapbook of ideas. You know how much I LOVE SCRAPBOOKING!

Here are some of the photos we've found for our inspiration board.




Personal Touches

The First Wedding Deposit: We Hired A Wedding Planner

26 January 2011

Last night, we did it. We signed the first check and handed it over! But who was the lucky recipient of this honor? Believe it or not, it was for a wedding planner.

I have the natural drive to plan and organize people together for a common event but the more I started learning about the wedding planning process, the more I realized how much I need a professional. And so our relationship with Music City Events began.

Sarah Willard, owner of Music City Events is nothing short of wonderful. Over the last few weeks, Mr. Collier and I have become quite good friends with Sarah W. This is the most important thing. I've learned that the two wedding vendors that the couple must have a good working relationship with are the wedding planner and the photographer/videographer. The photographer and videographer is obvious because your stress and distrust will be reflected in the pictures. The wedding planner is on your side, fighting your battles, and doing the very best he or she can to make your day run seamlessly and truly represent you as a couple.

I met Sarah W. through Bridal Bootcamp and after hearing her take on the values and priorities in session 1, I was sold. Mr. Collier and I set up a consultation a week later and headed over to her office for a quick initial meeting. A quick meeting turned into two hours of  talking and laughing about the T.V. show Friends and life stories. We left her office sure she would be someone we could have on our side for our wedding.

Although it is an investment for a wedding planner and you think you can plan your entire wedding yourself, do you really want to add of that stress? For me, I will be taking my qualifying exam smack-dab in the middle of the wedding planning just as invitations are going out and contracts will be getting finalized. Having my career on the line and a wedding to plan will be next to near impossible. Enter Sarah W. She is there to keep an eye on the budget, return phone calls, update contracts, draft a day of wedding schedule so that I can focus on what is important, becoming a Ph.D. candidate and Mr. Collier and I getting married.

Wedding DIY vs. DYI

I am a crafter at heart, without a doubt! Pair that with my desire to be frugal and you have a fabulous DIY bride. "Doing It Yourself" to save money and add our own personal touches is something Mr. Collier and I value, speaking of our list of priorities and values. But where to strike the balance between DIY and DYI (Doing Yourself In)?

Ashley's Bride Guide bootcamp geared or touched upon DIY in the second and third sessions. Conclusively,  DIY is encouraged but within reason. The lists of DIY projects can seriously go on for days but by taking a step back, are you really saving any money?

I know a couple, let's call them Mary and Joe who got married last year and thought it would be cheaper to purchase 200 place settings (chargers, plates, silverware, glassware, barware, etc.) on their own thinking they would be saving money. Mary and Joe might have saved on rentals but they were in charge of lugging all of the place settings to the reception venue for the caterer on the day of their wedding; had to make sure everything was set up properly or had to pay someone else to do it; they had to have them all bussed and cleaned from the tables; and as far as I know Mary and Joe have been married a year and they still have all of those items stored in a spare room because they couldn't sell them. The point is, is the time really worth the DIY?  

Noelle McCoy of McCoy Made (beautiful photojournalist photography) mentioned an excellent point last night that a bride shouldn't have to do anything on her wedding day except for get into her dress. Reflecting on that point and hearing her tell her story of wanting to DIY her own flowers resulted in a hug disaster despite her being a creative person. She said it was the worst moment and was completely overwhelming!

I vow from this moment that I will be reasonable with my DIY projects and be honest with myself about the time I have to dedicate to these projects.

The Pink Book Bridal Show

20 January 2011

On Sunday, the 16th with Megan C. in tow, I attended the Nashville Bridal Show at the convention center. It was insane! There were women literally every where and the only thing that could have made it worse was if they were having a "tickle me Elmo" sale at Walmart!

We obviously survived but I learned some important lessons while involving myself and Megan in this experience:

1) Print your information on mailing labels from Staples or OfficeMax because that seriously cuts down on time and allows you to interact with the vendors more. Honestly, everyone there is looking for your business and often will offer amazing incentives such as a free tossing bouquet or free cake consultations. If the vendors have your information clearly printed on a label, all you have to do is stick! I learned this last year when I attended a bridal show with Ashley L. another bride-to-be.

2) Some of the sign ups are scams. There are companies out there that will offer you a free honeymoon but it is impossible for everyone to win and yet somehow everyone gets called. Such companies include The Bridal Registry. If someone calls you telling you that you have won a free anything, make sure you cross reference the business online.

3) The Nashville bridal show was sponsored by Premier Bride and The Pink Book which are websites geared to state-wide wedding planning and a website that offers some pretty awesome planning tools (respectively) that I haven't seen on theknot or weddingchannel. The Pink Book's Printable sheets (that are supposed to end up in their purchased pink binder) itemize each wedding detail from guest accommodations to cake tastings or florists help make your own binder for FREE!

4) Bring a snack and some water! Most of the bridal shows will have tastes of food but this bridal show was heavy on cake. I must have eaten around 8 different samples of cake and the lines were too long for the heavy hors d'oeuvres.

Reflecting on my experience at the bridal show I have realized that it really is a balance between what you can handle and what is your breaking point. For me, I couldn't handle this show for more than an hour. But I'm sure some of the ladies would have and did stay all day!

Wedding Planning Bootcamp Session #1

19 January 2011

There is a fabulous resource for brides both here in Nashville and nationwide called Ashley's Bride Guide. She has great DIY and style ideas as well as amazing discounts through local Nashville wedding vendors of all sorts.

This January, Ashley decided to assemble local vendors, planners, newlyweds, and brides-to-be for this incredibly informative "wedding planning bootcamp."

Session #1 was all about Vision and Values.
As it turns out bridezillas are bridezillas because there is no plan. In fact, they find themselves with no direction and grasping at whatever wedding-esk thing they can in order to make sure they don't forget anything. Errrrr! Wrong!

For Mr. Collier and I, we want a joyful day that is full of laughter, friends and family. Great food and an excellent time! Everyone comfortable and relaxed. Nothing fussy. As it turns out, this bootcamp session #1 was exactly what I needed because I began feeling the pressure and grasping at straws.

Here is a list of things/tips I learned:
1) The first step to planning is to visualize your wedding day to identify your values.
What do you see? (twinkly lights or a gobo monogram on the dance floor?)
What kind of feeling do you get? (formal, comfortable, romantic)
Who is there? (or who do you want to be?)

2) How to make your values come to life.
Defining our priorities allowed us to home in on the essentials and make sure from here
on out when we contract vendors, they honor this list. Also, knowing your priorities
allows the vendors to get a sense of who you are as a couple and align (or not) with your

3) Be true and honest with yourself.
You might want a simple wedding and your family wants something more formal but you have to stay true to yourselves and your vision (within your budget). One panelist described a situation as a bride where her mother's highest priority was flowers whereas the bride didn't really care about flowers so she ranked them lower on her budget. To respect her mother's wishes, she ended up having her mother direct all the floral design with the understanding that the mother's priority was fulfilled and they could move on with the remainder of the bride's values.

Thanks to Ashley and her crew, I walked away with a brand new perspective on this whole wedding planning thing. Honestly, having heard professional input from planners, counselors, and post-brides put things into perspective for me.

The vs.

The day after Mr. Collier and I got engaged, I wanted to start planning out of excitement but we made an agreement to wait until after the holidays to begin the planning process. That sort of worked.

Naturally, I began joining websites like TheKnot and to begin looking at what to take into consideration so that I wouldn't forget anything over the next few months! But which site to choose to set up the wedding website or guide you through? As it turns out both are run by TheKnot but I've found some advantages and disadvantages of each website.

Starting with TheKnot. Hands down TheKnot has great photos and ideas. It is fantastic and user friendly allowing the user to browse photos by color, season, ceremony, do it yourself "diy"--practically anything you can think of! The articles and Q&A sections explain some of the jargon involved in the wedding business as well as commentary on customs and etiquette which can be helpful if you haven't been to or planned a ton of weddings, like myself. So far I believe I've been to 2 weddings in my lifetime.

Now, Wedding Channel. I love their registry function! Not only can you pool all of your registries into one place and provide only one website to your family and friends but Wedding Channel has partnered with the "I Do Foundation." For each purchase a guest makes off of your registry (from a select list of stores) through the Wedding Channel  a percentage 3-5% or the purchase is donated six months after your wedding to a charity of your choice. Mr. Collier and I set up a website through the Wedding Channel and our proceeds are going to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation in memory of my grandma. I feel it is a wonderful way to help others through the generosity of your guests at no expense to them!

I have struck a balance between the two websites and utilize TheKnot for ideas and Wedding Channel for our website and registry! Why not have both?

I'm Engaged hence Blogging Commence!

Mr. Collier and I got engaged on December 14th, 2010 on a quiet evening alone at home on the sofa watching "Friends." It was perfect and was I surprised! We'd talked about getting engaged for some time before the actual ring was placed on my finger but I was still in shock and slightly overwhelmed with all the decisions that are having to be made!

Sure, I've thought about what I'd like my wedding to be like since I was a little girl but how do I make those dreams come to fruition and into reality? Not to mention how do we afford every little item? From the invitations, candles, flowers, color, kind of food and presentation, guest list, registry, favors, number of plates and spoons to rent, pre-marital counseling, etc. You can seriously lose yourself in the details!

Being engaged, so far, is a wonderful experience and has brought Mr. Collier and I into a stronger place despite all these decisions that have to be made. I welcome you to join me in my journey TO BE Mrs. Collier.