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A Newlywed Christmas

A Newlywed Christmas

My schedule this weekend is insane. Let’s just say that we haven’t figured out the puzzle that is family gatherings.

Whose to go to?
Can we leave early and arrive late?
What about the dog?
Are we even going to be there for the meal that we’re bringing food for?

It’s a little comical but not stressful – thankfully! It’s a complicated matter that will have to be worked and reworked each year. But this year we decided to do it all.

The man and I will be running from his grandparents’ house, to dessert with my parents and midnight service on Christmas eve, staying the night, waking up for Christmas breakfast and morning with my family, running out to see Matt’s grandparents in the evening and then my other grandparents the day after Christmas. This doesn’t even include the Christmas that we already had with Matt’s parents.

Whew!

Needless to say, we don’t have much time for the two of us (three if you count Lexie!) to enjoy Christmas together. So we are celebrating tonight! The eve of the eve of Christmas Eve. Haha.

It began with an “Early Morning Cook” adventure, and for those of you that know me, you know that I don’t have much grace in the kitchen. I actually follow recipes and still manage to mess things up. But today I did not have a recipe at all…

I had a porkloin. I’m slightly obsessive about cutting the fat off of meat… pork was probably not my best idea! It was so nasty, in fact, that I don’t want to gross you out by posting the picture I had taken!

Anyways. So then I cut it in half and threw it in my crockpot with a bunch of other things that I had sitting around like peaches, onions, salsa, hotsauce, broth, salt and pepper and some wierd leftover hawaiian marinade. I’m keeping my finger’s crossed that it will turn out, but it smells delicious so there’s hope!

My Food Adventures

A New Invention!

After we eat our lovely porkloin Matthew and I are going ice skating downtown and reading the Christmas story from the Bible. Crank up the Christmas music! Should be a fun evening!

Anyways: Here are just some of my house decorations. I got creative with the ornaments because I didn’t think we were going to have a tree this year… But then we got one and it was the best thing since bees knees because my family hasn’t had a tree in years (It got replaced by a baby grand piano when I was a kid. Bummer, but still plenty of room for presents under there.).

Stairway Christmas Decorations

Stairway/Entry Christmas Decorations


Entryway Chandelier Decoration

Beads on my Entryway Chandelier


Christmas Snowman Decoration

The Fat Snowman Guarding my M&Ms


Christmas Wreath

Christmas Wreath


Christmas ornaments hanging on my windows! (Ignore the puppy playing on the couch)

I hung Christmas ornaments on my windows with varying lengths of ribbon. (Ignore the puppy playing on the couch)


Looking into the dining room. Garlands and icicle lights baby!

Looking into the dining room. Garlands and icicle lights baby!


Decorated dining room chandelier.

Decorated dining room chandelier.


Christmas card collection and the mistletoe I made for my hubby last year.

Christmas card collection and the mistletoe I made for my hubby last year.

How do you celebrate Christmas and how do you decorate for Christmas? Have you tried anything new lately? I love hearing from you!

For more inspiration please visit March 27 Designs!

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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 michaelbray@iconfilmworks.com, or by calling 616.334.6312

For more wedding inspiration, visit March 27 Designs.

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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.

Before:

Table number at wedding

Table numbers at our wedding


Photo from LVL Photography

After:

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.”

Decorations

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.

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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: www.stevenffox.com

Email them at: jessica@stevenffox.com or steve@stevenffox.com
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!

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Survive Wedding Planning: Cake Design

Survive Wedding Planning: Cake Design

The first part of our Survive Wedding Planning blog series is all about the cake! Learn all you need to know from local expert, Lori Hawkins from Desserts by Lori in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The Passion

I started this business purely for the love of seeing people’s faces when they see and then taste my cakes, desserts, or other sugary creations! With wedding cakes, we set up before everyone arrives, so I miss that initial reaction – so when they follow up with me by sending me pictures of them with their cake, and let me know how much they enjoyed it – that is a great feeling!

Desserts by Lori

Desserts by Lori

Advice from the Expert

All brides should make a point of having a taste-test and consult with several bakeries. Just because someone’s website shows their artistic skill, does not mean that their cakes taste good, and vise-versa! Be respectful of the appointment – I have had a few no-shows or late appointments – most brides do not understand that the bakery probably baked a special cake sample just for them!

Bring ideas with you. Your cake artist will want to get a sense of your style! Many times our brides bring us several pictures, and want different features from each cake picture. We will then combine it to make it uniquely theirs.

Desserts by Lori

Desserts by Lori

Bakeries will be charging you by the slice, not the size of the cake layers. Each cake shape/size serves different amounts of people. Have an estimate of your guest list and the cake artist can help you figure out how big of a cake you will need. A tip for budget-conscious brides: Most brides are getting a smaller cake, and then ordering sheet cakes to make up the difference in guest count. After you and your groom cut the cake, it is whisked away to the kitchen to be cut and served to your guests – along with the sheet cake that will already be in the kitchen.

Desserts by Lori

Desserts by Lori

Another “hidden” charge comes from your venue. Check with your venue to see if they have a cake cutting/serving cost. I’m shocked that some of the venues charge more to cut and serve the cake than I charge to bake, design, and deliver it!

With that in mind, we are seeing a lot of brides wanting cupcake towers, so their guests can serve themselves; therefore cutting out that cost. To keep with the cake-cutting tradition, a small one-layer cake can be made for cutting.

Desserts by Lori

Desserts by Lori

Fondant: A big misconception is that fondant (rolled sugar-dough that covers the cake) is bad-tasting. Yes, there are some bad-tasting ones out there, but there are some great-tasting fondants now! The fondant gives a great artistic-palate for us to work with, is exceptional smooth and perfect-looking, and allows us to put on satin ribbons and other special things on the cake. There is buttercream underneath, and the fondant is soft enough to cut, so your guests can choose to eat it or eat around it!

Trends this Season

1. Black and white cakes

Black and White Trend

Desserts by Lori

2. Cake jewelry – broaches (some heirlooms from grandparents, some new) placed somewhere on the cake (in the middle of bows, etc.) Dripping crystals on wire, rhinestones.

3. Ribbons – satin ribbons can only be put on fondant. (Buttercream will soak right through them)

Desserts by Lori

Desserts by Lori

4. Surprise Groom’s cake (the sky is the limit on these!)

5. Table cakes – each cake gets a little cake, some decorated specifically for those guests, and the couple married the longest gets to cut the cake. The wonderful thing about these is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money on centerpieces, because they are eaten!

Susan and Lori from Desserts by Lori

Susan and Lori from Desserts by Lori

For More Information

Check out designs and more information at Lori’s website.

Email: LHawkins@dessertsbylori.com
Phone: 616.554.5500
Find Desserts by Lori on Facebook

Thanks for the great information, Lori! What does your dream cake look like? Did you find this article helpful? Do you have a question for Lori? Leave a comment below! We love to hear your thoughts!

For more wedding inspiration visit March 27 Designs!


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Survive Wedding Planning!

We are about to launch a blog series called Survive Wedding Planning: Tips from the Experts.

Check back in the coming weeks to learn valuable information for planning your wedding!

We will consult with wedding experts to provide inspiration, Q&A and tips on anything from etiquette and trends, to finding the perfect vendor!

If you have specific questions that you would like us to blog about, please send me an email at mara@march27designs.com or leave a comment below!

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Letting Out the Animal in You

Letting Out the Animal in You

Animal prints are rocking it out this season.

Every bride has a different style and I had so much fun designing these elegant invites with an exotic flare!

Animal Print Invitation

Animal Print Invitation

Pastel pink invitation with giraffe skin transparent cover.

These invitations are just an illustration of how your wedding should be a time in your life when you can truly be yourself! Now, I’m not trying to give you free reign to be a bridezilla, but when it comes down to it, you ultimately should follow your thoughts and feelings about how your wedding should look and feel.

For my wedding, my hair is the perfect example of something that just couldn’t follow the norm. The traditional bride wears an up-do and a veil or tiara or something… If you know me, I practically never put my hair up, and the veil just didn’t suit my style… I wanted flowers in my hair!

My hairstyle ended up being a reflection of who I am… and I absolutely loved it!

Wedding Hairstyle

How about you? What’s your style? Would you use an invitation like the animal print invitation above?

Visit my website to learn more about March 27 Designs.