RSS Feed

Category Archives: Tips and Advice

Survive Wedding Planning: Your Chill Pill Prescription

Posted on
Survive Wedding Planning: Your Chill Pill Prescription

This week, Selwa Lukoskie, founder of SolaceSing Productions will be sharing her insight on how to relieve stress during wedding planning. Selwa founded her company out of a desire to tell other peoples’ stories through music. She helps brides and grooms relive their stories by crafting custom wedding songs.

In her words:

I was a DIY bride on a budget who planned her entire wedding from scratch. In fact, when it was all over, I was convinced that I should become a wedding planner. I don’t say this to brag. In fact, though I’m one of the most organized people I know, I’m not sure I could ever be a wedding coordinator. The process of planning my own wedding was very stressful, because I wanted it to be the most perfect day of my life. After all, I was only going to do this once (assuming all goes well).

Through it all, I realized how important it is to minimize your stress level. Even if you don’t do it alone, it can be a very nerve wracking process, and it’s crucial for your health and for the happiness of all involved that you remain at peace. Here are some tips on overcoming stress that I garnered from my own wedding planning experience:

Hire a wedding planner

Wedding planners do it for a living, and they work with multiple brides at one time.
They have connections to vendors and are often able to secure lower prices on goods and services. If you can work a wedding coordinator into your budget, it can save you a lot of time and headache in the end, as they will be in charge of all the little details. This will leave you to focus on the bigger stuff, such as who to invite and where to buy the perfect wedding gown. And, you’ll have more time to spend with your future husband. Remember, he is the reason you’re doing all of this in the first place.

Enlist the help of your wedding party

If you can’t afford to hire a wedding planner, you can still ask your friends, family, and bridesmaids for help. Invite them over for an afternoon and devote a few hours to addressing those wedding invitations. I had a hard time asking my bridesmaids for help, because I didn’t want to inconvenience them. But if they don’t want to help you, they wouldn’t have said yes to being in your wedding in the first place. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Treat yourself to a spa day

Get a massage; or a facial; or a manicure and pedicure; or splurge and get all four. You’ve put a lot of hard work into planning this occasion and you deserve to relax. Spa days also make great bridesmaid gifts if you’re at a loss on how to say thanks to your girlfriends for all their help.

Be prepared

No wedding is perfect. Things can and will go wrong, so prepare for it. Pack an emergency kit that includes deodorant, breath mints, makeup, a nail file, extra pantyhose, a mirror, dental floss, and anything else you think you might need at the last minute. If you have children in your wedding, be prepared for the unexpected. I received this piece of advice from our wedding director a few months before our big day: “Tell yourself, over and over that you’re going to have the best day of your life, no matter what happens, and you will have the best day of your life, no matter what happens.” She was right.

Remember who, and what, this is really all about

You can’t please everyone. Though you’ll probably have friends and family members insisting that you implement their “two cents” into your ceremony or reception, in the end, your wedding day is about two people: you and your groom. Ultimately, it comes down to the two of you and your unique love story.

As a singer/songwriter, music is my solace in times of stress. Before I was even engaged, I had decided to write a song for my future husband and surprise him with it on our wedding day. Throughout the wedding planning process, I would sit down and play this song, to remind myself of our story, and why I was doing this. The excitement over seeing his face when it played during our first dance was both comforting and motivating. If you find yourself stressed over the little details of your wedding day, go back and relive the bigger picture – your story – the best way you know how. Your wedding day will go by so fast that most of the little details will disappear from your memory. What will remain is what is most important: your husband, your relationship, and your story.

For more information

If you’d like Selwa to help you relive your story by writing a special custom wedding song, please visit her website at, or email her at

Follow her on Twitter
Like SolaceSing on Facebook

To begin your custom invitation design, contact Mara by clicking here.


More than a collection of names…

Posted on
More than a collection of names…

We all know the traditional guest book. Usually a beautifully bound book with a fancy pen for guests to sign their names and addresses as they enter the chapel or ceremony location. This traditional guest book used to be legally required because each guest was considered an official witness to the wedding.

Martha Stewart Weddings

Martha Stewart Weddings

(Photo from Martha Stewart Weddings)

This tradition has slowly morphed over the years to encompass something more meaningful for the bride and groom. Something that guests used to be legally required to do has become a way for them to share their well-wishes and advice with the newlywed couple. A way for the bride and groom to gather memories from their wedding day and from the people who have influenced their lives and relationship up to that point.

My own wedding guest book was a collection of engagement photos with space for our guests to write a note. It became a keepsake for my husband and I as it is more than a collection of names, it is a collection of memories.

Photo Guest Book

Photo Guest Book

(This photo and featured photo at the top of this article are courtesy of LVL Photography)

Tips for putting together your guest book:

Your guest book should reflect you and your unique wedding!
Whether you love the details, or if simplicity is your mantra, dress your guest book to reflect you! Use colors, ribbons, beading, pictures and other details to make it yours. I have seen guest books where guests are encouraged to type out a note on an old typewriter, a jar of cards, a framed picture, or can be as simple as a Polaroid camera and ink pen. Be creative!

Preserve your memories
Use a pen with non-fading ink. You will thank yourself years from now when you can still read every sentiment from your closest friends and family on this important day.

Recruit friends and family to start writing
Your guests may be shy about being the first one to write in your guest book. Break the ice for them by having your bridal party or family write a note before guests arrive.

Your guest book attendant is important!
Your guest book attendant should be someone who is outgoing and willing to draw people in to sign your guest book. Collect those memories!

How are you using the details of your wedding or relationship in your guest book? Any ideas to share? Please comment below! I love hearing your thoughts!

The nightmare before dinner

Posted on

You know how it goes… You’re waiting, waiting, waiting for those RSVPs to come back. Your mom, maid of honor, and wedding planner are all making phone calls and the caterer is bugging you for head count. You’re trying to get your table seating in order, but you’re not sure if Uncle Bob and Aunt Sally are even coming and that could throw off your entire reception plan.

It’s something like a bridal horror film the moment the bride realizes she chose the wrong RSVP date. It could end in tears and agony. Or forbidden Häagen-Dazs ice cream indulgence. And the guests don’t even know they’ve done anything wrong.

At my own wedding, I set the RSVP date a couple days before the caterer needed the final head count and I was lucky. All but two of my 350-ish guests had given me their response – but the two that were left were key family members that lived out of town and were difficult to get a hold of… to say the least!

Here are some quick ways to prevent an “RSVP horror” from happening in those critical weeks before your wedding:

1. Talk to your caterer.
Find out how much surplus food they cook and when they need your final head count. When you know that your caterer cooks an extra twenty-percent, for example, you don’t necessarily have to have those last five RSVPs turned in to know that you will have food for them even if they do show up. Bam! Bridezilla moment averted and your fiancé will thank you for not freaking out.

2. Set your RSVP return date to 1-2 weeks before your final head count is due.
This should give you plenty of time to collect the responses you need and make phone calls to those who haven’t answered by the date you requested.

Even if you don’t get all of your RSVPs on time it is going to be alright!

We had one guest at our wedding that wasn’t even invited. That’s right, we had a wedding crasher! But the funny thing is, we didn’t even realize it until we got back from our honeymoon, and then we were able to laugh about it. Love conquers all? Eh, who knows…

When it comes down to it, just relax. This is your day.

Survive Wedding Planning: Venue & Catering

Survive Wedding Planning: Venue & Catering

Below are some helpful tips for choosing the venue and caterer that is right for you from April Butler, who has been the Sales & Event Manager for Celebration! Banquets & Catering for the past five years. Celebration! Banquets & Catering is an award winning company, which is part of Celebration! Cinema.

I love my job!

One big part of what I do is to play the event planner role with brides and grooms when they’re both considering Celebration! as a venue/catering option and once they’ve booked. I love my job! It is always rewarding to be able to help someone with one of the most special and important days of their life.

Not all venues are created equal…

When selecting a venue it is important to ask specific questions, but don’t forget to ask questions that are important to you, too! Some questions you might want to consider are:

• How much does the room cost and what is included with that price?
• How many people can the room hold?
• Do we have to meet a minimum with catering and bar services?
• How long will we have access to the room?
• When can we set up?
• Do we have to use specific vendors?
• Is it handicap accessible?
• Do you have restrictions on decorations?
• What is the deposit and is it refundable?

Celebration! Banquets & Catering

Celebration! Banquets & Catering

As you determine where you’d like your reception to take place, make sure to consider what is important to you. Should the room look traditional and elegant or be more unique? Is price a factor? Do you want staff to be in tuxes or more laid back? Ultimately don’t choose a place that doesn’t fit with your personality or your budget!

Celebration! Banquets & Catering

Celebration! Banquets & Catering

Don’t pick a caterer before you’ve picked a place…

Many reception venues offer exclusive in-house catering, which can make it tricky to find the place of your dreams if you already have a caterer in mind. Before you commit to a caterer make sure that they can cater at the place you like or make sure to secure a venue that doesn’t have restrictions. On the other hand, try not to get too set on a caterer – venues that offer in-house catering can really simplify things for you. In many cases you’ll only have to work with one person who will be your contact for any questions you have about the room, the food, or the bar services – and that person can also be a great resource for other wedding needs such as a photographer or a DJ.

Celebration! Banquets & Catering

Celebration! Banquets & Catering

Make sure you like the food…

Many venues will set up public or private taste tests so you can sample a variety of menu selections before making a commitment. This is one of the most important meals you’ll ever have, so be sure you attend a tasting! If your caterer doesn’t have a public tasting for you to attend, ask them to provide a private one. The food is one thing all guests will remember about your big day, so make sure to provide a memorable meal – in a good way!

Celebration! Banquets & Catering

Celebration! Banquets & Catering

The event planner at your venue makes a difference…

This may not seem that important, but you’ll be working with the person at your reception venue for the majority of the time you’re engaged – and probably more than any other vendor you choose. This person will be your go-to with questions about everything – ideas for other vendors, decorations, food, alcohol – and it won’t be fun or easy if you can’t relate to that person. Define your expectations and your vision for your big day with your event planner to make sure that they are feasible. Some ideas are just not possible to execute, but a good event planner will help you make as many of your wedding dreams as possible a reality.

Have FUN!

So often I see brides forget to do this. Your wedding day is special, and ultimately nothing else matters but the fact that you’re marrying the love of your life. If something doesn’t go exactly according to plan, don’t sweat it. Let those you’ve hired handle things for you – that’s what you’ve hired them for! Relax and enjoy your day because it’ll fly by and be done before you know it!

For More Information

Check out Celebration! Banquets & Catering online.

Phone: 616.447.4210
Find Celebration! Banquets & Catering on Facebook

Thanks for the great article, April! As you are planning your wedding or special event, what do you look for in a venue or caterer? What does your dream venue look like? Do you have more questions for April? If so, please post your comments below! I love to hear your thoughts!

For more wedding inspiration, visit March 27 Designs.

Share this on Twitter!
Like March 27 Designs on Facebook!

Survive Wedding Planning: Your wedding in HD?

Survive Wedding Planning: Your wedding in HD?

Michael Bray at Icon Filmworks is presenting this week’s topic for our Survive Wedding Planning blog series! He is a local cinematographer who is very passionate about making sure that you understand the importance of having high quality service at your event.

Do you have questions about whether or not to hire a cinematographer or videographer? Check out his info below!

Why should I hire a cinematographer?

The bottom line is that it is imperative that you hire a wedding cinematographer! Given that Icon Filmworks shoots wedding videos, you might think that we are a little biased. However, surveys conducted by the Wedding and Event Videographers Association (WEVA) indicated that prior to their weddings, barely 50% of the brides listed videography as a Top 10 item. However, after the weddings, the emphasis changed dramatically. A whopping 79% of the brides placed videography among their Top 10 items for wedding planning.

Here’s why: Your video (and your photographs), unlike the contributions of many other vendors, are the “to have and to hold” parts of your wedding celebration. They endure long after your ceremony.

Icon Filmworks

Icon Filmworks

The survey also revealed that many brides had regrets about not hiring a professional videographer. In fact, among brides who asked a friend or family member to film their wedding day, nearly half (49%) said they would hire a professional if they could plan their wedding again.

For those brides who didn’t have their weddings filmed, 60% wished they had hired a professional. Icon Filmworks’ goal is to inform you about how grateful most brides are when they choose to hire a professional cinematographer and, as a result, can relive their wedding day and watch all the moments they missed due to their participation in their own wedding!

Icon Filmworks

Icon Filmworks

Future-proof your wedding memories with high definition video

Absolutely, positively make certain that your wedding cinematographer provides you with your wedding footage on a Blu-ray disc if they tell you that they shoot with high definition video cameras. Many wedding cinematographers will inform you that they shoot in high definition, but instead of a Blu-ray disc, they will return your wedding footage to you on a DVD. If this happens, then the quality of your video is no longer high-definition.

Be sure to ask if your wedding cinematographer provides you with a Blu-ray disc if they declare they shoot with high definition cameras.

Icon Filmworks

Icon Filmworks

On a related topic, be sure to find a wedding cinematographer who shoots in high definition. This is extremely important due to the ever-changing technology.

Check out any store that sells televisions and you will notice that the only style television being sold is high-definition. The old standard definition TVs of yesterday are becoming a thing of the past. Therefore, any wedding video shot in standard definition will soon become a fuzzy image on your brand new high-definition TV.

Your wedding is a live event. Capture every moment.

Select a wedding cinematographer who captures your unique wedding day with, at the very least, three video cameras. Three or more cameras make certain that every moment of your special day is captured! Plus, technology being technology means that sometimes a video camera might fail (very unlikely, but something you would hate to see happen). If there are two or more other video cameras continuing to film your day, then absolutely nothing is missed!

Remember that your wedding day is a live event. You probably don’t want your wedding cinematographer shouting, “Cut! Do over!” as you’re reciting your vows. Multiple video camera coverage with cameras that are strategically placed to capture events from every angle prevents any missed opportunities to seize that special moment.

It’s all in the timing…

You never want to feel rushed on the day devoted completely to you as a couple. Therefore, it is important to try to find vendors who do not place time limits on the packages they offer. It is difficult to fully plan for your reception events to be completed by a specific time. Furthermore, the last thing you want to do on your wedding day is to whip out your checkbook to pay extra fees for additional hours of coverage. Make sure you find vendors who offer all-day coverage as part of their packages rather than hourly coverage. This prevents you from eyeing your watch during your reception when you’d rather being eyeing your spouse!

Icon Filmworks

Icon Filmworks

Our Inspiration

We are Icon Filmworks. Icon Filmworks is a small boutique film studio specializing in high quality cinematic style wedding films. We offer distinct quality and creativity to wedding cinematography. Our studio is very aware and conscious of the look that appeals to today’s modern bride. It is our philosophy that your wedding film should play like a movie, one that invokes emotion and unique memories that only moving images and music can create.

Michael and Lori Bray, Icon Filmworks

Michael and Lori Bray, Icon Filmworks

The inspiration for Icon Filmworks was born out of our own experiences while planning our wedding. Not only were wedding cinematographers difficult to find, but also, of the ones that we did locate, we discovered that none offered the features and amenities we hoped would be included in a never-to-be-forgotten wedding video. This served as the impetus for discussion about developing a business in wedding cinematography.

Throughout our entire planning process for our wedding, we really enjoyed meeting with all of the vendors who seemed just as excited about our day as we were! We wanted to find a way to give back to the wedding vendor community by joining forces with other vendors to offer thrilled-to-pieces brides and grooms all of the details possible to meet and exceed their dreams. We hoped a wedding video through Icon Filmworks would provide the happy couple with the opportunity to relive their special wedding day at any moment in time by capturing as many of the sights, sounds, and unique moments as possible.

One’s wedding day is the happiest, most exciting time of a couple’s life together! Why not live the day over and over again?

Check out more information at Icon Filmworks’ website.

Contact Michael or Lori Bray by emailing, or by calling 616.334.6312

For more wedding inspiration, visit March 27 Designs.

Share this on Twitter!
Like March 27 Designs on Facebook!

A green wedding? Making it possible.

A green wedding? Making it possible.

Being green.

1. Not everything about your wedding has to be energy efficient.
2. You don’t have to save the environment by asking for donations to an environmental organization instead of gifts.
3. You don’t have to drive a battery-powered car to your reception.
4. You don’t even have to buy special invitations that you can plant after your wedding (as cool as it is to have seeds in your paper!!!).

Don’t get me wrong, these things are all good! But when I was planning my wedding, I decided to go a different route and create wedding items that I could re-use… whether to give away, decorate my house, or donate to my little sister who will be getting married sooner than later! This is one way that I was able to have a “green” wedding, save some money later, and feel good about not putting so much to waste.

Here are some ways that you can recycle through your wedding!

Table Numbers

This one is my favorites. Go nuts and make your table numbers a piece of art… really! The table numbers at my wedding each had a different quote on the back and after the wedding I was able to use the quote-side to create a unique and modern work of art above my doorway.


Table number at wedding

Table numbers at our wedding

Photo from LVL Photography


Table numbers... after the wedding

Table numbers... after the wedding

Table number idea - after the wedding

Table number decor - large view

Escort Cards

A second way that you can recycle through your wedding is with your escort cards. If your escort cards are a classic design, they can easily become place cards–perfect for hosting a family gathering such as Thanksgiving or Christmas (something newlyweds often do so that they can “show off” their new house!).

Simply ask a family member to collect them at the end of the reception, or ask the host at your venue to collect them when clearing the tables.

Escort card idea

Escort cards used for Thanksgiving dinner

Talk to your wedding stationary professional about ideas like this. At March 27 Designs, we aim to create wedding pieces that reflect you. If you truly love your wedding art, you should be able to continue to enjoy it after you say “I do.”


Another way to “go green” is to think ahead about your decorations and purchase or make things that you will use later. I have three fantastic examples of this from our wedding.

First of all, I looooooove candles! We had almost 300 candles lining the walls of the church when we got married, and I purchased a beautiful set of candles for each of our reception centerpieces. It was amazing. And guess who got to bring them home and decorate her house… yours truly! I didn’t take them all, of course, because it would’ve been a little intense to decorate my small house with hundreds of candles. Giggle.

Candles lining the walls of the church

Candles lining the walls of the church

Photo from LVL Photography
Candle wedding centerpieces

Candle centerpieces

Photo from LVL Photography

The second example of how I was able to “go green” was literally green. Our wedding took place the weekend before Easter, and I love palm trees. I bought the trees and they made my wedding beautiful. I then left them there for the church to use for their Easter service, came and got them after the honeymoon, and here they are, still decorating my house! My family is making bets on whether or not they will survive to our one year anniversary… So far I’m winning!

Palm tree wedding decorations

Palm tree decorations

Photo from LVL Photography

The third example of how we used the decor in practical and reusable ways was through our candy dishes in the Fireside Room at Calvin College’s Prince Conference Center (yes, those are my wedding photos on their site!). I bought these beautiful little star-shaped dishes and I can’t tell you how often I’ve used them in my own home for not only candy, candles, and small flower arrangements, but also Christmas decorations (more to come next week!).

Wedding candy dish turned Christmas decoration

Wedding candy dish turned Christmas decoration

So… what’s the moral of the story? When planning your wedding, choose items that you love, and items that reflect you… Not only will you be fulfilling your wedding dream by being true to yourself, you just might be able to use some of it after the event.

Are you planning to have a “green” wedding? Do you have other ideas to share? Please post them! I love to hear from you!

For more inspiration, please visit March 27 Designs.

Share this on Twitter!
Like March 27 Designs on Facebook!

Survive Wedding Planning: Choose Your Photographer

Survive Wedding Planning: Choose Your Photographer

In this segment of the Survive Wedding Planning series, learn how to choose the right photographer to capture wedding photos that you love from Steve and Jessica Fox of Steven F. Fox Photography.

The Team

Steve and Jessica have been photographing weddings since the spring of 2006 and love working together. Steve’s extensive training and background in commercial photography give him a modern style of portraiture that captures emotion in beautiful and creative ways. Jessica is a photojournalist who is passionate about people and relationships and enjoys capturing details and unique moments. Steven F. Fox Photography is a professional studio located in Holland and available for travel worldwide.

Steven F. Fox Photography

Steven F. Fox Photography

Your Budget and Research

Consider the importance of photographs when setting your wedding budget and selecting who will capture the moments of your day. Not only does a professional photographer have the equipment and experience needed to work in a wide variety of situations but they also know how to interact professionally with your other vendors and your guests. Keep in mind that at the end of the day when your vows have been said, the cake has been cut and the last dance has been shared you will be left with your dress, your memories and your photographs.

There are so many options out there that finding the perfect photographer can be overwhelming. It is important to take time to find out what types of photographs you like the best. I consider a photograph “good” if I want to see myself in it. Knowing what you like will help narrow down the list of options and give you a more manageable list of people to meet with.

Steven F. Fox Photography

Steven F. Fox Photography

Choosing Your Photographer

When you are meeting with photographers (or any vendor for that matter) be sure to ask questions that are important to you. There are some great lists of questions out there but if the questions don’t apply to what you want to know then the answers won’t help you decide who is a good fit for your wedding day vision. A few questions I would ask are:

1. How long have you been photographing weddings?
2. Who will photograph my wedding if you have an emergency?
3. Do you have back-up equipment?
4. Do you bring lighting for indoor portraits and the reception?
5. How would you describe your style of photography?

Steven F. Fox Photography

Steven F. Fox Photography

Your photographer is going to be with you all day long, so be sure that you are very comfortable with the person who will be your shadow on the most special day of your life. Your wedding day can also be stressful so having someone there who is calm and confident plus willing to help when needed is HUGE!

Steven F. Fox Photography

Steven F. Fox Photography

Working with Your Photographer

Have clear expectations and be sure to talk with your vendors about them. We will do everything in our power to capture beautiful, creative and memorable images but we cannot meet an expectation if we are not aware of it. If you have very specific ideas be sure to discuss them with your photographer and give them the material and the time they need to capture your vision.

Steven F. Fox Photography

Steven F. Fox Photography

For more information, visit Jessica and Steve’s website:

Email them at: or
Call them: 616-550-5661

Thanks for the great information, Steve and Jessica! Did you find your dream photographer? Were you able to use this article? Do you have a question for Steve or Jessica? Leave a comment below! We love to hear your thoughts!

For more wedding inspiration visit March 27 Designs!

Share this on Twitter!
Like March 27 Designs on Facebook!