January 2011

Tips for Interviewing Wedding Vendors

by Melissa on January 31, 2011

A few weeks ago, we had our first real interview with a vendor, a potential photographer.  Although we really liked her photos, we didn’t feel she was going to be a good value after we received her pricing sheet.  For instance, while other photographers include engagement sessions in their similarly-priced packages, hers were extra.  She also didn’t include any proof prints until you reached her very high-end packages.

We knew we probably weren’t going to select her as our wedding photographer, but we still decided to interview her on the phone.  The interview was very illuminating and helped us craft other questions that we wanted to ask other photographers too.  We have now interviewed five potential photographers, and we have our interview questions down pat.

I wanted to share with you our insights for interviewing vendors.  Not specific questions per se, because those can be found on any particular number of sites and in wedding reference books, but good vendor interviewing techniques.

The Basics

Although you may have a particular set of questions you want to ask the vendor, we have found that it is useful to ask an open ended question first.  The purpose of the open ended question is two-fold.  1) Some of their discussion may answer the questions you already have, and 2) You can get a good sense of their personality and communication skills.

For instance, instead of asking, “What type of camera equipment do you use?” or “How many pictures do you provide?” upfront, try:

  • Why don’t you tell me a little bit about yourself, your business, and your workflow?
  • What is your philosophy on photography (or catering, officiating, etc.)?

Personality Matters

We have found that we have a better opinion of the photographers that we have interviewed that have been chipper and asked us about ourselves than the ones that were just basically there to answer our direct questions.  You’re going to be on regular contact with this person for a good length of time, (depending on the duration of your engagement).  Make sure you have a vendor that meshes well with your personality.

Know What You’re Looking For

Or at least be open about why you don’t know what you’re looking for.  Identify your criteria for the type of vendor you’re interviewing.  For instance, during the interview, I mention several of our wedding photographer criteria from this post.  Outlining your criteria to the vendor shows that you know what you want and that you’re not some flaky bride they’ll have to deal with.  If you’re not sure what you want, the vendor may be able to help guide you in the right direction

Ask For Specifics

If you’re not familiar with the more technical aspects required of your vendor, take some time to inform yourself.  My fiance and I are photo geeks, and so we ask the photographers what format they shoot in (the correct answer for any professional is RAW).  We have eliminated two photographers because of technical-related issues.  One photographer who said that he shoots in JPEG and not RAW and another that said she didn’t know how to export photos from Lightroom as a .TIFF, only as a .JPEG.  These are major red flags, but only because we recognize them as red flags because we familiarized ourselves with the topic.

Phone vs. In-Person

We have done four phone interviews and one in-person interview.  Personally, I feel like the in-person interview was a waste, because that was the one that said he shoots JPEGs.  I’d recommend having a brief phone interview first, then decide if it’s worth it to meet with them in person.  I think having phone interviews first would be valuable for any vendor, even caterers.

I’d be interested to hear what other brides and grooms have learned when they interview their wedding vendors!

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Link Roundup January 28

by Melissa on January 28, 2011

Links I’m Loving

There is no need to be envious of other couple’s weddings.  Ever.

I love this idea of cutesy ballerina-type tutu skirt for a flower girl!

Brides need to quit being such brats about not having kids at their weddings.  Leave the option open to your guests whether they want to bring their kids.  If one starts screaming during your vows, you’ll have a great story for later

I totally want an ice cream cart or ice cream truck at our wedding!

This article about colored gemstone rings really spoke to me.  I too have a sapphire engagement ring and wouldn’t trade it for anything.  Diamonds = a BORE.

I LOVE this wedding dress.  Nuff said

Pay attention.  Not all brides go gaga over those cutesy bridal shower games and toilet paper dresses.  So read up some bridal shower ideas for non-girly brides.

I love those blue flats!

We’re undecided about honeymoon plans, but it likely won’t take place until several months after the wedding.  The last thing we want to do is have to hurry and leave on a plane a day or two (or even week) after the wedding!  But, these hotels look AWESOME!

Thank you!  I can’t even begin to count how many vendor websites I have visited that are just terrible.   Even really high end, expensive venues!  Also, they need to put more than two pictures on their website (and ones that you can zoom in on properly).  In fact, one venue that my fiance and I were considering, we were going to try and work out a barter deal where we would redesign their website in exchange for a venue discount (fiancé is a web developer)

In addition to my recent interest in the Wedding Blogosphere, I’m also a big fan of many personal finance bloggers.  They speak to my fiscally responsible self.  This week, Frugal Dad, Madison of My Dollar Plan, and Gen X Finance have wedding budget tips this week

I am ALL about organization and this software looks awesome. But I think I will stick to Google Docs, which rocks.

Some good advice for balancing your real work vs. your wedding work!

Since we’ll be doing a lot of self-catering, I’ve found myself wondering how the food will be set out.  I really like this idea (photo 14) for buffet displays

Shit I’m not going to worry about for my wedding

There are some things that I come across in the wedding blogosphere that just make me go “hmmm, no wonder why brides stress themselves out so much over their wedding.”  In other words, things that seem to take too much time compared to the benefit.

Christ Almighty, ANOTHER post about lining envelopes?  Is it really that important and worth all that time?

Gratuitous vs. Frivolous.

This girl is ridiculous if she thinks she needs to spend an extra $700 on chairs to get “beautiful pictures.” How do people get like this?

Themed weddings = OVERDONE.

Why would you stress yourself out about the fact that groomsmen did not adhere to the rehearsal dinner dress code?  Relax, have fun!

Wedding Fitness Goal Progress

I lost two pounds this week, for a total of 3.6 pounds since January 5.  Not great, but I’ll take it!

January Wedding Planning Goal Progress

  • Interview Wedding PhotographersMostly done.  We interviewed three more photographers this week, bringing the total to six photographers interviewed.  We really like two of them.  Hopefully they’re still available come May when we find out if our venue is confirmed!
  • Make Wedding Photographer DecisionDeferred.  We’ll identify our top three, but unfortunately can’t book any until we get venue confirmation in May
  • Compile Addresses for InvitationsNot Started
  • Firm up budget calculationsDone.  But I still can’t figure out why I can’t get the budget to below $12,000.  Ugh!  I really want it below $10,000.  I think I’m estimating high on catering.  I can’t even begin to estimate how much it will cost in groceries to feed 125 people.  Regardless, it’s still cheaper than wedding caterers!
  • Develop wedding planning timelineDoneSee last Wednesday’s Post!

Finances and Administrative

  • Wedding Related Expenses This Week: $0.00
  • Total Wedding Related Expenses (all time): $106.50 on magazine subscriptions and planning books
  • Total Budgeted Difference (we have a $15,000 budget): $14893.50
  • Estimated Hours Spent on Wedding Planning (not including blogging) This Week: 5 hours (didn’t do much planning this week)

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Wedding-Venue-Google-Search

 

(Hint, it’s not the Knot or Wedding Wire).

My first foray into wedding venue hunting, I went straight to Wedding Wire and then The Knot to find an awesome venue.  Within an hour, I had eliminated about 90% of the venues, and e-mailed 10%, mostly ones that either looked interesting and were within our budget or interesting and had no pricing information.  Whoa is me.  All those venues listed and just a few to look forward to?

Well, I am here to tell you that Wedding Wire and the Knot and Wedding Bee and all those other sites are not the end-all, be-all of wedding venues.  So, here have been some of my favorite resources:

 

Local/Regional/State Tourism Sites.

These sites have been invaluable in our hunt for a reasonably priced wedding venue.  For instance, back when I was looking at venues near my hometown, I found this regional tourism site and looked under “things to do” to find interesting properties, wineries, parks, etc.  To find other similar regionally-based tourism sites, I typed “Laurel Highlands” in Google and then clicked the “Find Similar” link next to the search results.  Virginia.org was also awesome in helping me locate other parks, museums, and historical sites throughout the state.  Also, don’t forget to google your county or town’s parks and recreation department for a listing of local parks and facilities.

Wedding Photography Blogs.

Most reputable wedding photographers will blog their recent weddings and indicate the venue that the wedding took place (Bonus!: many also list the other vendors that the couple used).  So, take a look at some of the blogs of wedding photographers in your area, see what venue photos catch your eye, and then see if they have the venue or other vendors listed at the end of their blog post.

Alternate Google Search Terms.

Searching for “unique wedding venue dc” in google will provide you with a list of boring hotels.  I don’t think that hotels should ever fall into the “unique wedding venue” search results.  *yawn.*

If you’re looking for an outdoor venue, for instance, try “company picnics (+your zip code),”  or “lakefront vacation property rental (+city),” or even “outdoor retreats (+state, city, etc.).”  You can also search for farms, wineries, and bed and breakfast locations near where you want to get married.  If you’re looking for something basic, you can search for local fire departments that might have hall rentals, or churches that rent out halls.

Wedding Vendors are on Twitter.

So, here is something strange I have discovered.  Wedding vendors are friends with each other.  Er, well, at least they all follow one another on Twitter.  Even those vendors that fall within the same category.  For instance, photographers will follow other photographers on Twitter.  I found one wedding photographer that I loved, and then, even though she’s a little out of our budget, I found that she follows a whole bunch of other wedding photographers!  And they all follow other wedding vendors, like planners, venues, videographers, etc.  So, if you haven’t done so, sign yourself up for twitter and start following wedding vendors and maybe even find some hidden gems out there.

Other Vendor Websites.

Many caterers will list the venues for which they are either the preferred caterer, or venues that they have catered at in the past (so, even if a caterer is out of your price range, their website may still have some valuable information, much like this DC area caterer).  I have also found lists of venues on officiants’ websites.  Also, like photographers, many wedding planners will blog their clients’ weddings.  Even if you have no intention on hiring a planner, you can still find other good information about venues, decor ideas, and links to other wedding vendors.

Disclaimer: The venues found on these other vendor websites are a mixed bag.  Sometimes there are new venues that you’ve never heard of before, and other times they’re the same old ones from the Knot and Wedding Wire.  But, it’s definitely good for variety.

 

 

Sadly, not one venue that I contacted from Wedding Wire or The Knot actually worked out.  They were all way too expensive.  The “company picnic locations” search was what led to our wedding venue.

How did you find your wedding venue?

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Weekly Roundup January 21

by Melissa on January 21, 2011

 

Links I’m Loving

I was all excited about getting an awesome pair of sapphire blue pumps for my wedding day, but realized that pumps aren’t exactly conducive to a grassy area wedding.  So, flats it is!  If anyone finds any blue flats, let me know!  in n out catering truck

I’m glad that $2000 bride pointed me to this link from March about food truck catering.  This is definitely an option we’re considering.  

I have a very technically-inclined fiancé, who has been writing programs for LED lighting systems that he’s been buying.  He says it’s for the wedding, but really I think he just wanted an excuse to buy reels of LED lighting and write a computer program to make them change colors and flicker to the beat of music!  So, needless to say, I think a monogram like this is definitely a DIY option for us 

If I could find a wedding dress that looks like the one Scarlett Johannson or Heather Morris were wearing at the Golden Globes, I would be in heaven!  Or one in white like Angelina Jolie wore.  What can I say?  It’s all about my desperate attempt to find a wedding dress with sleeves! 

We are a little concerned about the comfort of our guests since we’re planning an outdoor wedding in November.  However, luckily there are several indoor options at the same site in case it’s too cold for our guests (and us!) 

I have given zero thought to my wedding day hairstyle, but given that it’s long, I do like these long waves ideas (or perhaps a half-up, half-down style).  Oh, and a headband would ROCK.

Any time I ask my fiancé for registry ideas, he replies “Hard Drives!”  We’ll likely “trade-up” for our existing appliances (and maybe even get some hard drives.    Registry selection is on our planning schedule for May 

Since our venue is a very large campground site, I like the idea of these rustic-looking signs to point our guests in the right direction.  Backyard summer project?  Yep! 

Eek for blue wedding shoes!  And more blue wedding shoes

My fiancé and I have been interviewing wedding photographers and we don’t think we’ll opt for any of their album offerings.  We think we can do it much cheaper on our own too

I’m leaning towards simple candles all along the picnic tables at our reception.  Simple, inexpensive, and classy. 

I’m trying to think of what would make me go all Bridezilla.  I’m thinking it will probably have to do with any self-catering that we do.  Or maybe that would just be stress, not bridezilla tendencies 

 

Shit I’m not going to worry about for my wedding

There are some things that I come across in the wedding blogosphere that just make me go “hmmm, no wonder why brides stress themselves out so much over their wedding.”  In other words, things that seem to take too much time compared to the benefit. 

Embossing anything on my own.  And to be honest, I’m not even sure what embossing is! 

DIY Envelope Liners?  A) Why does one need envelope liners, and B) If you do need them, why not just buy pre-lined envelopes.  Is your paper design choice really so important that you would spend so much time doing this? 

“Cake Toppers” and “Dilemma” do not really belong in the same sentence. 

 

Wedding Fitness Goal Progress

Ugh, I gained 1.2 pounds between last week and this week.  I haven’t been counting weight watchers points precisely, more just “estimating” in my head.  No good.  Back to tracking every bite.  On the upside, I got in a good bit of exercise. 

 

January Wedding Planning Goal Progress

  • Interview Wedding PhotographersIn progress (e-mailed several more photogs, We’ve now interviewed three photographers with only one prospect out of those three.  We have another interview scheduled for tonight as well as Monday evening and a few more appointments I’m waiting to hear back for confirmation). 
  • Make Wedding Photographer DecisionDeferred.  We’ll identify our top three, but unfortunately can’t book any until we get venue confirmation in May
  • Compile Addresses for InvitationsNot Started
  • Firm up budget calculationsIn progress.  I still can’t figure out why I can’t get the budget to below $12,000.  Ugh!  I really want it below $10,000.  I think I’m estimating high on catering.  I can’t even begin to estimate how much it will cost in groceries to feed 125 people.  Regardless, it’s still cheaper than wedding caterers! 
  • Develop wedding planning timelineDoneSee Wednesday’s Post

 

Finances and Administrative

  • Wedding Related Expenses This Week: $0.00
  • Total Wedding Related Expenses (all time): $106.50 on magazine subscriptions and planning books
  • Total Budgeted Difference (we have a $15,000 budget): $14893.50
  • Estimated Hours Spent on Wedding Planning (not including blogging) This Week: 5 hours (didn’t do much planning this week)

Photo Source

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Our Wedding Planning Schedule (1st Draft!)

by Melissa on January 19, 2011

Since we won’t know for sure if our venue will be available on our desired November 2011 date until late May, I wanted to develop a planning schedule.  This schedule will help us ensure that, when we can confirm the date, we can have everything ready to go and ready to book. I don’t want to still be researching potential vendors at that point.  The idea is that we can identify our top 3 choices in each vendor category in case one or more is already booked when we contact them again in May or June.

 

January:

  • Interview photographers
  • Compile addresses for invitations and save-the-dates
  • Identify top three photographers
  • Firm up wedding budget calculations OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

February:

  • Research hair and makeup artists
  • Interview videographers
  • Research marriage license requirements

March:

  • Submit application for venue
  • Design Save-the-dates, test-print
  • Interview officiants
  • Research local restaurants for catering accompaniments
  • Take some intro dance lessons
  • Develop content and design for wedding website

April:

  • Develop potential wedding songs and playlists
  • Start wedding dress shopping
  • Interview DJ’s
  • Have engagement photo shoot
  • Research cake bakeries

May:

  • Begin to obtain decor items
    — special table for bride and groom
    — layouts for ceremony and reception
    — lots of jars and candles
  • Purchase wedding dress
  • Identify items for registry
  • Interview wedding coordinators
  • Finalize website
  • Research calligraphers
  • Follow up with venue if date has not been confirmed

June:

  • Begin to design invitations
  • Finalize menu items
  • Finalize list for Out of Towner bags
  • Print and mail save-the-dates
  • Start shopping for wedding rings
  • Book photographer
  • Book DJ
  • Book Hair and Makeup
  • Book Officiant
  • Book Videographer
  • Book coordinator

July

  • Purchase wedding accessories and shoes
  • Take more dance lessons
  • Book lessons for choreographed first dance

 

So that’s now through July.  What else am I missing?

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Self-Catering a Wedding

by Melissa on January 17, 2011

One of the many wedding-budget saving tips I have read is to self-cater your wedding.  Catering is by far the biggest expense of a typical wedding, so self-catering can be a major money-saver.

 

Why I don’t think self-catering is a good idea

Although I’m a penny pincher, I never really thought self-catering would be a good idea, for a couple of reasons:

  1. The last thing I want to be doing the days before my wedding is stressing about cooking and baking.
  2. Most venues, even those without preferred caterers, require that food-providers be licensed and insured
  3. Logistics are difficult.  Transporting and storing that amount of food, in addition to figuring out how much food one needs for 100+ people, sounds daunting.

Why my view on self-catering has changed

We found a awesome venue at a nearby National Park site that we’re hoping to use as our wedding venue (rental applications can’t be submitted for another few months).  There are no restrictions on food.  Catered or self-catered, you can do whatever you want.  The only requirement is a Virginia liquor license and some liability insurance if you’re serving alcohol.

Realizing just how much of our budget catering will eat up (no pun intended), I had an epiphany that self-catering really isn’t that bad of an idea, especially if other relatives are willing to help.

Menu Ideas

  1. One table of specialty foods from my fiance’s side of the family.  This would include things like German Potato Salad and other amazing German dishes
  2. One table of specialty foods from my side of the family.  This would include foods such as pierogies, kielbasa, pizelle cookies, homemade pickles, and spicy shrimp.
  3. Catered accompaniments by a local restaurant, like an Italian restaurant
  4. Cupcakes made by my fiance’s aunt, and possibly a more traditional cake from a bakery. Plus some other dessert options, including a candy or sweets table.  And of course, s’mores for the fireplace
  5. Bartender services through a local company.

We still have to crunch the numbers to get clearer budget figures, but I still think this will be considerably cheaper than the least expensive catering option we have found in the DC area, which is approximately $36 per person, not including alcohol.

Action Plan

  1. Ask venue for contact information for other couples that have had their wedding at the park and ask what they did for their catering
  2. Research nearby restaurants for accompaniment catering options
  3. Search wedding forums and contact other couples that have self-catered their weddings for their lessons learned
  4. Firm up potential menu offerings.

 

In the meantime, I’d love to hear from other brides that have self-catered their weddings

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Weekly Roundup January 14

by Melissa on January 14, 2011

 

Links I’m loving

I think that postcard invites or save-the-dates are an excellent way to save money on paper and postage. 

I too have long hair and am always frustrated by stylists that try to convince me to cut it.  (And no, I don’t want to donate it either).  I think that having long hair will give me many more options when deciding on what hairstyle to wear on our wedding day

Thank you for the primer on wedding themes and then reminding us that they really aren’t necessary

Living in the DC area, I must say that I LOVE these escort cards ideas

I am torn about wedding cake options.  I think would just like to ask my fiancé’s Aunt to make her amazing cupcakes.    But what do you think, do we still need a regular old cake?  Nothing fancy like the layers shown here.  Just plain old chocolate or vanilla cake 

Matrimony Monday?  I haven’t heard that one before, but based on the number of folks on my facebook feed that announced engagements over the holidays, I’m not surprised!  Love this quote from the $2000 Bride

The Wedding Industrial Complex is a dangerous cultural entity that has the power to distract us from the significance and importance of planning a major life event. In my mind, it’s a zero-sum game: The more time we spend thinking about the calligraphy and the custom monogram and the metallic color palette, the less time we have to think about how to strengthen our partnerships, to reflect on the enormity of the commitment we are about to make, and to maintain all the aspects of our lives that are totally unrelated to our weddings.

Also, Tips for the newly engaged.

 

Wedding Fitness Goal Progress

I lost 2.8 pounds this week, for a total of, well, 2.8 pounds.  Cumulative weight loss calculations to start next week!   I worked out most days this past week.

  • Thursday January 6: Jillian Michaels Banish Fat Boost Metabolism
  • Friday January 7: Yoga for Weight Loss.  Seriously, I suck at yoga.  I may revisit my workout plan. 
  • Saturday January 8: 30 Day Shred (Level 2).  Was running late for an appointment and didn’t have time for whole BFBM
  • Sunday January 9: Rest
  • Monday January 10: Jillian Michaels Banish Fat Boost Metabolism
  • Tuesday January 11: Jillian Michaels Banish Fat Boost Metabolism
  • Wednesday January 12: More Yoga.  Once again, it barely felt like a workout
  • Thursday January 13: Jillian Michaels Banish Fat Boost Metabolism

 

January Wedding Planning Goal Progress

  • Interview Wedding Photographers – (e-mailed several more photogs, We had a phone interview with one, and I have to follow up with the others that have e-mailed me back)
  • Make Wedding Photographer Decision – Currently Interviewing
  • Compile Addresses for Invitations – Not Started
  • Firm up budget calculations – Not Started
  • Develop wedding planning timeline – Not Started

 

Shit I’m not going to worry about for my wedding

There are some things that I come across in the wedding blogosphere that just make me go “hmmm, no wonder why brides stress themselves out so much over their wedding.”  In other words, things that seem to take too much time compared to the benefit. 

I do not believe that a bride needs two dresses for her wedding day, regardless of how grand her budget is! 

No, you do not need a $40 notebook to keep as a bridal diary

OMG.  A bridesmaid online newsletter?  WTF.  And whereTF do people get time to do this? 

 

Finances and Administrative

Wedding Related Expenses This Week: $0.00
Total Wedding Related Expenses (all time): $106.50 on magazine subscriptions and planning books
Total Budgeted Difference (we have a $15,000 budget): $14893.50

Estimated Hours Spent on Wedding Planning (not including blogging) This Week: 10 hours (mostly researching photographers and more information about our new venue)

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“That Comes to $3,000 per Hour”

by Melissa on January 12, 2011

… said my fiancé.

That is the phrase that shocked me out of our decision to choose a local picnic pavilion site as our wedding ceremony and reception site.

The Pavilion rental company only seems to allow five hour rentals.  We pressed the issue, but they said that five hours would be “plenty of time” for a ceremony and reception.  They said that they would “allow” some extra set up time.  Even though the venue fee is inexpensive ($650 per shelter) and the catering is “cheap” compared to DC standards ($29.99 per person including lots of food and all sodas), we still don’t know if we’re willing to pay.

Given our $15,000 total budget, a five hour event comes to $3000 per hour.  HOLY.SHIT.  No, thanks.

Conversations about our dilemma with other people  went largely like this:

“You can both afford it.  Quit complaining and just do it already.”

If only it were so simple!  My frugalista self just won’t allow it.  So, once again, I have said so long to what I once thought was a perfect venue.  First Glen Echo Park, now the Pavilions at Turkey Run.  Alas.  No hard feelings.  I’m not willing to pay the kind of money you want and to have all those restrictions put in place.

So, after searching, once again, at potential wedding venues and realizing that I had seen them all before, I came across one that I hadn’t.  We can rent out a group campsite for $540/night (we’d probably book it for several days).  We went to visit it on Sunday, and it was AWESOME.  Great ceremony location possibilities, plenty of indoor and outdoor options depending on the November weather, no catering restrictions.  You can bring your own alcohol as long as you apply for a $50 permit.  Pure awesomeness.

And then, the catch.  Of course.  There’s ALWAYS a catch.  We want to get married in November 2011.  They won’t accept applications for that date range until March 2011.  We should not expect to hear if our date has been selected until late May 2011.  Yikes.

After much deliberation, we have decided to take our chances and submit an application in March.  The place is just too good of a deal and location to pass up.  Plenty of folks have planned wedding in six months or less, and we can do a lot of preparations in anticipation of a wedding, regardless of the date.

I’m so excited, and will post more details soon!

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Weekly Roundup January 7

by Melissa on January 7, 2011

Links I’m loving

A lot of my guests (I hope) will be coming from out of town.  While I am not a big fan of stressing myself out over minutiae, I do like the idea of welcoming our guests to town with something special.  I really like this idea of welcome boxes (plus, I LOVE washi-tape)

Winter Wraps? Yes, please.  Although I’m still on a hunt for a wedding dress with sleeves.  Any tips?

Speaking of wedding dresses with sleeves, I LOVE the dress pictured here.  Unfortunately I can’t find the designer’s website online.  If anyone comes across a similar-looking wedding dress, let me know!

Resolutions for the newly engaged.

Very cute idea as the couple exits the ceremony.  But I think I like the streamers on a stick thing I’ve seen several places now.

I really love this idea and would modify it to display photos at our venue.  (via Curbly)

Fall Wedding Inspiration for a Fun-Loving Bride?  Love it!  Especially the candy apple favors.  While there’s a big DIY favor trend, i think something quick and easy like this or candy would be great.

Wedding Fitness Goal Progress

Well, although I was down 3.6 pounds the first two weeks of December, my weight loss and fitness goals were completely derailed as Christmas neared.  Blah.  New Year, new start, right?  There are almost monthly opportunities for derailment from now until July because of various events and parties with amazing food.  I must work on my self-control at parties like these and not over-indulge.  It’s a huge weakness of mine.

January Wedding Planning Goals Progress

Interview Wedding Photographers – (e-mailed four photogs, two have e-mailed me back.  We had a phone interview with one)

Make Wedding Photographer Decision – Currently Interviewing

Compile Addresses for Invitations – Not Started

Firm up budget calculations – Not Started

Develop wedding planning timeline – Not Started

Shit I’m not going to worry about for my wedding

I’m introducing a new feature here on SuperNoVABride.  I don’t mean to poke fun (well, maybe a little), but there are some things that I come across in the wedding blogosphere that just make me go “hmmm, no wonder why brides stress themselves out so much over their wedding.”  In other words, things that seem to take too much time compared to the benefit.

MAKING t-shirts?  Pretty, but not worth the effort

No, I will not spend $55 to attend Washingtonian’s Unveiled Event

I’m not sure what this bride’s budget is, but all I can think of is EXPENSIVE and highly unnecessary.  A robe??

No, I do not need color coordinated soaps and other products for my venue’s bathroom.

Holy Moley.  C’mon people.  Who needs to do this?  Matching hair styles and personalized belly bands?

Okay, seriously, I don’t mean to keep going back to posts I’ve seen on Wedding Bee, but so few of the projects that people undertake seem to be worth the outcome.  Cutting out all those individual fabric circles?  No, thanks.

Finances and Administrative

Wedding Related Expenses This Week: $0.00
Total Wedding Related Expenses (all time): $106.50 on magazine subscriptions and planning books
Total Budgeted Difference (we have a $15,000 budget): $14893.50

Estimated Hours Spent on Wedding Planning This Week (not including blogging): 15 hours

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My fiancé and I have begun the process of looking for a photographer.  I had my eye on one photographer for a really long time.  Although I didn’t know her in college, she and I had some mutual friends and when I would see those friends comment on her photos on Facebook, I would be so jealous!  She was the first photographer I e-mailed.  Unfortunately, even though photography is our top priority, her photography service prices were really much more than what we wanted to spend.

While I’m not running to Craigslist to find a “budget” student photographer, I knew there had to be other options out there.  So, in my search, I’ve developed the following criteria for wedding photographers:

Blogging

The photographer must have a blog that they use to post many pictures (at least 15-20) from each of their recent weddings and other photo shoots.  Anyone can have a website that has a slide show of their 20 most amazing photos.  I want a photographer who consistently publishes their recent work to demonstrate their photojournalist skills.

Social Networking

Must be on Facebook and/or Twitter and have more than 50 fans or followers.  I could probably sign up a photography page and get 50 of my friends to “like” my page.  But I want someone who has an established following.  I think that heavy Twitter and Facebook usage also shows that the photographer is tech savvy and forward thinking.  You can tell a lot about a person’s personality from their tweets!

Equipment

Yes, I understand that it’s not just about the equipment, but wedding photography is no place for an entry-level SLR and kit lenses.  Therefore, our photographer must use a full-frame digital camera (although a mix of digital and film is okay too).  The photographer must also bring at least two camera bodies with them to the wedding.  You never know when something might break!

Style and Skill

They should have a mix of candid and posed shots of their recent events on their blog. There was one photographer’s blog I was looking at and was really falling in love with the images from one of their recent weddings.  Then I realized they were almost all posed shots.  Only two candid shots from the entire wedding were posted.  I like to see a good mix of posed and candid photographs that demonstrate they have the skill to take both types.  I also explore their blog to see examples of their night-time photography, since we’re having an autumn outdoor ceremony and reception and it will get dark early.  **Update!  Must also be willing to provide use with .TIFF files (not JPEGs) and must shoot in raw!

Copyright-Friendly

Must be willing to provide non-watermarked high-resolution digital copies of images.  I do not want to always have to go back to the original photographer if I want a printed copy.

Post-Processing

Photos can’t be overly processed or have that weird faded yellow thing going on. I don’t know why I’ve been seeing this trend in a lot of wedding photographs but I hate it.  I only hope that there is an original version of those photos somewhere so that in 10 years, when the couple decides they don’t want that weird coloration, that they can see the original beauty of their photos.

Finances

Must take credit cards.  I’m not trying to be cynical, but let’s face it, no matter how many reference checks we do, any vendor, including a photographer, can totally screw us.  A credit card gives us an option to dispute charges if services aren’t rendered.  If we pay by cash or check, there’s no recourse except a long drawn-out legal process.  My fiancé doesn’t necessarily agree with this credit card criteria, arguing that perhaps we can even negotiate a lower price by offering cash, but it makes me very nervous.

Business Model

Must be an independent photographer and not part of some major chain.  I like the idea of supporting independent photographers and small businesses, and worry that some big wedding photo studio company would provide their most amateur, lowest-paid photographer for our event.  One of the downsides of dealing with an independent photographer is that I worry what will happen if they have a family emergency or end up with appendicitis the day before the wedding.  I’ll ask what their worst-case-scenarios are and if they have contingency plans.

What are your wedding photographer criteria?

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