Bridal Buds WeddingWire Blog

A Merging 2014 Wedding Trend – Unplugged Weddings

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Unplugged Wedding

Off Beat Bride - The Unplugged Wedding by ARIEL MEADOW STALLINGS - Photo by Nora & Troy at

As far as wedding trends go, there are two that are highly influenced by social media and technology. In 2013, there was the surge of #hashtagweddings with cute signs inviting guests to take and link wedding photos with their smart phone.  It makes sense in terms of being sure to have all of your wedding photos saved to the same place, but now in 2014 there is a new trend taking the stage: unplugged weddings.

An unplugged wedding is a wedding where the bride and groom kindly request that guests refrain from using their phones or camera’s during the wedding. The ideology behind this is that they want everyone to be completely present and to experience their wedding first hand – not through a camera screen.

#hashtagwedding versus unplugged: The ideas behind each of these weddings go head to head with an essential issue that is debated on more than one platform, asking are we too dependent on technology? Do we believe, as Veronica Rossi’s Under the Never Sky’s dystopia claims, that the virtual is “better than real”? Or is the real, the moment, irreplaceable by the photographs and video’s we capture? As we dive into social media realizing the benefits it brings, it is important to recognize the cons and perhaps that it does not belong at the moment of your “I do’s”. With a wedding photographer, you and your wedding guest should not worry about capturing your special day on camera -let the photographer worry about that. Enjoy the moment.

How to have an unplugged wedding

  1. Create a cute sign (better than a hashtag) asking your guests to please turn off their phones. This is a simple way to push toward having an unplugged wedding. Guests will typically be willing to follow your wedding whims because they came to see your wedding, not Instagram it. It is just easy to end up on Instagram with your phone at your fingertips. However, just like when you go to see a movie, your guests can survive a couple hours with their phone turned off                                                                                                                                                                                                                     OR
  2. Have a phone check in (like a coat check). It will be important to create an effective system for keeping track of whose phone is whose, but this is a fun way to insure that your guests won’t be Snap chatting or updating their Facebook status as you are tearing up in your vows.

There really won’t be too much to creating an unplugged wedding. It is just a matter of deciding if it is important to you or not. After all, it is your wedding day.

Kori and Erik at the Powerhouse in Washington, DC

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Kori and Erik were married at the Powerhouse, a hip new wedding venue in Washington, DC’s Georgetown neighborhood. The space is literally a converted power house– it even has a smokestack. The interior is industrial-chic, and outside the venue is right on the C&O canal — great for portrait shoots!

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Summer Wardrobe, Winter Wardrobe! What’s in your Wedding Stationery Wardrobe?

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Wedding Stationery Wardrobe: hand calligraphy, engraved, fold over note; two color invitation, and flat printed program with slate grey ribbon. Photo: Marjorie Maxfield.


What’s in your wedding stationery wardrobe?

Is that a gasp I hear from the bride, mother-of-the-bride and groom? Yes, everyone of the prime players in your wedding, including the father-of-the-bride, should be aware of the important role stationery plays in every wedding. Here are the basics that must be addressed, sorry about the pun, by the bride and her loved ones:

The Wedding Invitation

“The wedding invitation sets the tone for the wedding!”

Does your invitation’s design, wording, style mirror your signature style? Does it reflect what kind of event it will be?

No, you do not need to give away your color scheme, theme; however, if you are planning a traditional ceremony in a church, then that casual, destination by-the-sea look that you have always adored needs to be the theme of your first summer event as a married couple, not the invitation,

The wedding  invitation typically includes: an invitation, the reply set with the replay card and envelope; a reception card, unless your ceremony and wedding ceremony are at the same place.

Other wedding enclosure cards include:

Direction Map

A direction/map  card is convenient if the venue is off-the-beaten track or difficult to find even for an Map Quest savvy guest. Put the directions on one side and the map on the other.

Transportation card

Although you posted the information on your WeddingWire bridal site, it is a very nice reminder to your guests, not only the wedding party, that transportation will be provided.  The wording, centered on the “reception side card” reads: “Transportation will be provided from the ceremony to the reception.”

 Admissions card

Celebrities, rock stars, and other luminaries as well as those of us who desire a more secure wedding with no unintended guests, then an admissions card is for you. The wording:

Please present this card at

St. Patrick’s Cathedral,

Saturday, the twenty-second of June

Pew Card

For your honored guests who you want to seat in a special section of the church, then the Pew Card is your ticket! The wording,

Please present this card at

St. Patrick’s Cathedral,

Saturday, the twenty-second of June.

                                                                                                                                                              Pew number_____

Within the Ribbon Card

This was a mainstay in mid-century weddings to designate that there will be a “within the ribbon” section of the church for the close members of the family. At the church, white or creme ribbons are draped on the center aisle pews, to tell all guests these seats are reserved for the immediate family.

Within the Ribbon Card

Brides Reserved Section (Write name(s) in black ink)

Groom’s Reserved Section (Write name(s) in black ink)

Bride’s Personal Wedding Stationery 

Thank you, thank you! The bride has a duty to write a thank you note for every give, gesture of love that is given to her! No exceptions. So, she needs pre-wedding notes with her maiden name; and after-the-ceremony bridal notes with her married name. Note here, if you are not married in a civil or church ceremony you cannot use you married name or initials! This means on the wedding invitation, program or bridal notes!

I would suggest a fold over note. The most popular, i.e.. expected by the majority of your guests, has the initials, monogram of the bride (married name here). I might nudge you toward an engraved note. Why? It makes a big impression, tells a lot  about you and practically, you can, later, use your monogram die in a color ink.

I see blind embossed monograms (no ink used) as the premier note. Recently, I had a bride who had her initials designed by a nationally-renowned calligrapher, Christopher Watkins. See the sample above in a bronze. What she chose was even more awesome: the calligraphy was blind embossed!

If you prefer a more low key note, then flat print or use thermography, with your name or initials in black.

Mother-of-the-Bride, Father-of-the-Bride and Groom Thank You Notes

You bet, each one of these key players have thank you notes to write to friends, family, clergy as well as those who were gracious enough to give to their time and talent to your wedding day. Your Mother needs a fold over note; the gentlemen, a correspondence note with their full name at the top.


How to Interpret Vendor Reviews

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With most business interacting online and selling their products online, it gives the consumer the opportunity to share their experiences more easily.  In fact, shoppers will most often find a forum specifically designed for consumer reviews and if not, then they may be able to respond on the companies Facebook or other business profiles. As a soon-to-be, you are going to want to have the best quality and the best service, so you will most likely be searching through the various comments on vendor websites and profiles to see what passed customers think. This is great, but let’s be honest, sometimes it is very hard to judge how accurate the reviews are, especially when they seem to contradicting. Take a gander at these tips on how to judge accuracy and interpret the reality behind the review.

  1. Take a Step Back: This goes for both negative and positive reviews, and what we mean by this is to read reviews critically and don’t just soak up what someone says online as the absolute truth. Reviews online are very easy to do and can be done without any sort of filter. This means that yes, reviewers can speak their mind, but also that there is not any accountability or filter.
  2. If there is a star system and a comment box, look at both: An easy mistake when there is a star system available is to use that as your only gauge, but I cannot even count how many times a comment contradicts how many stars are given. This will happen when there is an auto or default setting, so if a reviewer forgets to set a star level, they may be leaving a positive review with no stars or a negative review with five stars.
  3. Read the Positive and the Negative:  This is important when buying just about anything. If you only read the pros, you may miss some cons that may make or break the purchase for you.
  4. What is not important to one person, may be important to you. For example, if your mother is a die hard cheesy sci fi fan and she gives a review to a movie saying the fight scenes were epic and the evil monsters look so real, you may want to be wary that the main actress will scream just a few seconds too late and that the zombies make up is smeared half way through the film.
  5. Does this reviewer have a name? This goes along with the first tip. If the reviewer is anonymous, it may be that they just forgot to or didn’t see the point in filling out who they were, but it could also mean the person wanted to say something nasty without being caught OR that the business owner wants to fluff their reviews. Both happen, but not always.
  6. Keep in Mind the Client. Who do wedding vendors sell to? Stressed out brides or people feeling the effects of being so closely related to stressed out brides.  With this, there may be some overreaction and perhaps a few dramatic claims that the customer service was completely awful. So keep in mind, that the customer service could be perfectly adequate, but was unable to provide the bride with the exact shade of purple that she was looking for.

Registries For Older Couples? Of Course!

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Couples of all ages are tying the knot and using cash gift registries as a way to kick-start their lives together.  For many, this means help with a lot of firsts: first home, first car or first baby. As an older couple, you may have already gone through many of these events, but there are still tons of ways in which you and your loved ones can celebrate your new life together. Read on for a few tips:

1. Register For Experiences

These never get boring regardless of how many you’ve had, and the options are endless! Why not register for an unforgettable honeymoon to Hawaii, as Hope and Roger did? Or sign up for tennis and dance lessons? Each wonderful experience you have as a couple adds to a lifetime of priceless memories.

2. Register for Home Improvement

Even if you already have a home, that doesn’t mean that there’s no opportunity to make some much wanted adjustments. Some couples may want to replace time-worn kitchen equipment with the newest versions, or add a few rooms to their home. Steve and Mel used their wedding registry as a way to fix up their future home in France. Cool stuff, huh?

3. Register to Bring in the Family

A wedding isn’t just a union of two people; it’s a union of two families. This holds especially true for older couples with children of their own. So why not use a registry to make merging into one big happy family as seamless as possible? One idea may be a trip to Disney World with all of your loved ones, both new and old. Another may be to add a swimming pool or play room for all of the kids to congregate in. Take a look at Abdi and Laura’s registry for some ideas.

4. Register For Charity

As you get older, material things may not seem nearly as important. Experiences with loved ones may take precedence but so can giving back to a cause that you’ve always cared about. Having family and friends donate to a charity or organization of choice can add that much more meaning to the start of this new chapter in your life.  Check out Rayna and Eli’s contributions toward American Jewish World Service as an example.

How To Go Green At Your Wedding Reception!

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You’re starting a new life together; why not start a new commitment? A new commitment to go green. Living an eco-friendly lifestyle is one of the best things you can do as a new couple. So, get a head start planning your eco-friendly wedding now! Below are tips on how to go green for your wedding reception:

1. Food and Catering

The food and catering for your wedding reception is a great way to incorporate eco-friendly elements. Buying local food and beverages can help in reducing the amount of transportation needed for your big day. When you go to buy your local food, choose organic products. They aren’t as wasteful and they taste better! You can also donate any excess food and drinks instead of just letting it go to waste.

2. Flowers

Flowers are normally a big part of wedding receptions. Many flowers imported into the U.S. are normally sprayed with pesticides and fungicides, and who wants that at your reception? Local and organic flowers are not sprayed with these chemicals and also reduce transportation needs. Also, you can buy seasonal flowers which are often less costly and also helps in fuel use.

3. Waste Cans

With all the food and beverages being served at your wedding reception, you can expect a lot of trash to accumulate. This is a great opportunity to include eco-friendly ways. Set out recycling trash cans that are for certain things. For example, you could have containers for paper, plastic, bottles, can and whatever else you can think of.

4. Decor

There are some simple ways to incorporate various eco-friendly products into your decorations at the reception. For example, use soy candles. They don’t release toxins into the air that all of your loved ones are breathing. Another thing you can do is use tablecloths made of organic and recycled fabrics.

5. Favors

Wedding favors given out at the reception can be very costly. Also, a lot of times they are just gifts that are going to be tossed in the trash, which is not good for the environment. Some alternatives are edible gifts or potted plants. Not only are these types of favors better for the environment, but they have less of a chance of getting tossed in the trash.

As you can see, going green for your wedding reception really isn’t as hard as you might think! All of these are simple and easy things you can do to help incorporate eco-friendly elements into your big day.

Las Vegas: A Dazzling Honeymoon Choice

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Once an oasis for desert travelers, Las Vegas has since boomed into one of America’s preeminent destinations for entertainment. Now, synonymous with neon lights, luxurious casinos, upscale shopping, fine dining, and larger-than-life shows, it’s easy to see why this vibrant city sits right at the top of honeymoon wish lists.

Immaculate Accommodations 

Drop your bags at Encore Las Vegas, truly a fantastic property across the board and the perfect hotel for a honeymoon getaway. Starting at 745 square feet, rooms are spacious and well-appointed. Service is attentive without being obtrusive. All the while, between the acclaimed 18-hole golf course and heated pools surrounded by gorgeous gardens, the facilities are terrific.

For classic Las Vegas accommodations, newlyweds should consider The Mirage Hotel & Casino. Opened in 1989, The Mirage quickly became the gold standard for Las Vegas resorts with its service, size, amenities, grand marquee, and ambiance. Since then, a variety of new upscale properties have emerged, but the property has still managed to retain its overall excellence. The resort’s top attractions include Love, the Cirque du Soleil show using Beatles songs, the comedy series “Aces of Comedy”, plus the iconic volcano that comes to life each evening.

Dining Experiences With a View 

Start your getaway off right with a romantic dinner at Picasso. With views of the Bellagio fountains, indulge in extraordinary New French cuisine while being surrounded by original Picassos. Cap the night off with drinks at Mandarin Bar at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Floor-to-ceiling windows, elegant decor, expertly crafted cocktails, and stunning views of the Strip make this venue a honeymoon must.

Looking for that ultimate splurge meal? Look no further than Joel Robuchon, which serves out of this world New French cuisine at the MGM Grand. The 16-course degustation menu may run $425 per person, but it will most certainly be a dining experience you’ll remember for the rest of your life.

Extraordinary Las Vegas Shows

Whether it’s a concert, magic show, comedy set, or large production number, don’t leave Las Vegas without experiencing at least one of the city’s world-renowned performances. When in doubt, there’s always Cirque du Soleil. The immersive production has become so popular that eight different shows can now be found on the Strip.

Meanwhile, the Fremont Street Experience is another dazzling spectacle to add to your list. With an enormous canopy displaying mesmerizing light and sound shows, FSE leaves spectators speechless night after night. This can’t-miss attraction is located in downtown Las Vegas, now a revitalized area loaded with fine arts and cultural activities.

Images courtesy of Mandarin Oriental and Cirque du Soleil

How To Hire A DJ That’s Right For You

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Guest Post by: Marc Sense, Integral DJs

Photo Courtesy of: Tonhya Kae Photography

Out of all the wedding vendors couples book, the most challenging and arguably most important one is the DJ. You can judge a venue by its visual aesthetics or a photographer by their images, but what criteria can you use to find the best DJ for you? Here’s how to qualify a DJ, who fits both your needs and has the ability to execute your vision:

1. Mixing – Blending songs consistently and tastefully together while transitioning between different eras and genres of music. It requires technical skill, deep-music knowledge, and the intangible ability to read a crowd.

  • Why – This is the most important factor for keeping your family and friends on the dance floor all night long. It will be the difference between guests forgetting your wedding or having lifelong memories they’ll talk about forever.
  • How – Does the DJ have a mix that you can listen to? Can you see them perform live at an event? If yes, your ear will be able to distinguish their skill level and tell you if they’re the right fit. If the answer is no, take them off of the list.

2. Service/Organization – Ensuring that every need of a couple is met in a timely fashion and accounting for every detail ahead of time.

  • Why – The level of service is a barometer of how invested a DJ is to your event and should make that planning process as easy as possible. Organization ultimately leads to either a botched or well-executed event.
  • How – What is your online interaction like? Does the DJ understand your vision and communicate swiftly or is it like pulling teeth? An in-person meeting will give you a a chance to assess this and ask the DJ how they prepare for an event.

3. Hosting/MCing – Guiding an audience through an event with down-to-earth announcements. Creating a natural flow keeps things moving so people are always engaged.

  • Why – Family and friends invested their time and money to experience and witness every aspect of your wedding. The last thing you want is some guy blabbing on the mic and annoying everyone.
  • How – Again, an in-person meeting immediately reveals their verbal communication and listening skills. Or you can always see them perform live at an event.

4. Equipment – Having professional microphones, sound system, lighting, and gear.

  • Why – The most common problem is microphone feedback, which can ruin a ceremony or heartfelt speech. It doesn’t matter how incredible a mix is if it’s distorted or hits a volume ceiling.
  • How – Simply ask for a list of equipment then cross reference it online. The cost of the equipment typically correlates with its reliability and performance – the higher the better. If a DJ uses Technics 1200 turntables or Pioneer CDJ 1000s, that’s a sign they are serious about their mixing. If lighting is a priority then find out what options they have available.

5. Experience – The repetition of doing a variety of events.

  • Why – A DJ who is well versed in both the pressure of party rocking at a club and the detail required for weddings should be well equipped to make sure you have the time of your life.
  • How – Find out their gig history and actually verify its accuracy.

After you have done the research and interviews, take a step back and consider what’s most important to you. Set aside any preconceived ideas about price because investing in the DJ will ensure that all of the hard-earned money you’re spending in other departments doesn’t go to waste. A wedding only happens once and you should hire the right person that can create the unforgettable experience you’ve always dreamed of.

Marc Sense | Founder, Integral DJs

Marc Sense is the founder of Integral DJs based in Seattle, WA and Washington, DC. He has over 10+ years of experience performing at clubs across the country and concerts featuring the likes of Snoop Dogg, The Roots, and Macklemore. His team recently won WeddingWire’s Couples’ Choice Award 2014.

What You Should Know About Wedding Cake Toppers

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Animal Wedding Cake Topper

Dealing with wedding cake toppers on a daily basis as a business means we get a lot of questions about all the nooks and crannies that have to do with what cake toppers are made of and how to tell if what you are getting is well, good. We have answered these questions on an individual basis — be it over the phone or through email — and have begun trying to reach a wider group of our shoppers with answers on our blog, but I feel like this is information that not only our brides would ask, but any bride with her heart set on a cake topper would want to and should know.

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How to Choose the Perfect Wedding Cake Topper

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How to Choose Between Contemporary, Novelty, and Traditional Wedding Cake Toppers

When choosing your wedding cake design, you are going to have to take into consideration that wedding cake topper. Of course, you will be designing a wedding cake that will fit in or coordinate with your wedding colors and theme, and with so many different options, you really have to do the same with your wedding cake topper. That may seem like a “duh” moment, but if you have had your heart set on using the most darling little surfer dude and chick salt and pepper shaker that you think is just too cute and totally you to not pass up, but then you have a very traditional black-tie, red roses wedding, the cake topper will look out of place. The same will go in reverse. It is important that your wedding cake topper is unique to you, but in order to create a cohesive wedding look, you need to make sure that uniquely yours wedding cake topper coordinates with the vintage lantern and daisy centerpieces. Let’s take a look at some criteria that will help you navigate and decide what type of cake topper will fit into your wedding theme.

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