Four questions to kick off your wedding planning

Four questions to kick off your wedding planning Blog Entry Image

Congratulations on your engagement! Now it’s time to plan the biggest party of your life. But where should you start? We recommend staring with the basics:

• What?
• Where?
• When?
• Who?

What is your wedding budget?
We know it’s not the most romantic topic to think about, but the answer to this question will serve as a guide to the rest of your wedding planning. Being realistic about your budget up front will save you a lot of stress in the long run.

Where do you want to hold your wedding?
Do you want a destination wedding? A wedding where you grew up? Do you want your wedding ceremony and reception at the same location? Indoor? Outdoor? The most popular venues book up far in advance so you will want to nail this down early in the planning process.

When would you like to get married?
Have you always dreamed of a spring wedding or maybe a winter wedding? The time of year you want to get married may dictate where you will get married. At the same time, the availability of your dream wedding location may dictate when you get married. Again, we cannot stress the importance of deciding the when and where early on in the planning process.

Who do you want to invite to the wedding?
This is sometimes a little harder to determine right away, but try to get as close to the final number of guests as possible. You certainly don’t want to try to squeeze 200 people into a church made to seat 50.  Make a list of the people you absolutely want at your wedding as a jumping off point, then build from there.

At the Woodlands Resort, we provide our brides-to-be with a wedding planning checklist to assist with the planning process. You can check out our wedding checklist here. It provides some great tips for each month leading up to the big ceremony.

2014 Spring Wedding and Reception Decor Trends

2014 Spring Wedding and Reception Decor Trends Blog Entry Image

Every year new design ideas and trends come to the forefront and 2014 is no difference. From vintage furniture to twinkle lights, Spring 2014 is about rustic romantic elegance.  Here are some wedding and reception trends we are seeing this spring.

Twinkle Lights
There is something magical twinkle lights bring to a wedding or reception, especially in an outdoor setting. However, keep in mind that string lights don't work for every venue. Some ballrooms for example won't let you hang anything from the ceiling.

Chalkboards
Chalkboards can be used so many different ways - photo backdrops, table numbering or for displaying the couple’s favorite quote. Be sure not to overdo it, but instead use a chalkboard to add those special personalized touches.

Vintage Furniture
Whether your style is whimsical or retro chic, a couple of dramatic pieces of vintage furniture can make a bold statement. Only add one or two to the room to elevate the look of your wedding or reception.  Consider a vintage settee or farm table to transform the space. 

Hydrangeas
Big, beautiful clusters of small, delicate flowers ranging in colors from deep blue and purple to soft pink and creamy white add a romantic touch to any wedding.  Hydrangeas are in season from early Spring through Fall but are easily accessible all year long.  Due to their vintage flair, they can either be the center of attention in wedding floral arrangements or fill in to create full, luscious bouquets. 

Remember at the end of the day, your wedding is about you as a couple.  Whatever décor you choose, make sure it represents you and your special day.

Questions to ask when looking for a wedding venue

Questions to ask when looking for a wedding venue Blog Entry Image

Your wedding venue selection is one of the biggest decisions you will make about your wedding day. We recommend sitting down before any site visits or phone calls and write out a list of questions you would like answered.  Having the same list of questions answered by each potential wedding venue will make it easier for you to compare your options.  Here are few examples of questions to think about asking. Don’t forget to include those questions that are unique to your event’s desires.

What dates are available in the month I’m considering? How many weddings are currently booked or could be booked on those days?

Is there a particular month that you would recommend based upon the natural beatification of your grounds?

Are there certain times of the year or days of the week that are more budget friendly?

What are my location options for hosting a wedding/reception at your facility?

How many people can your venue accommodate?

What is the rental fee and what is included in the price?

Can I host both my wedding ceremony and reception here? If I do hold both, is there an additional charge?

If I host my ceremony here, do you have a dedicated area for the bride to change?

How much of a deposit is required to hold the space? When is it due in the process and is it refundable? What is your required payment plan for the whole bill? Are there any service charges on top of the bill?

What is the cancellation policy?

Does the venue have liability insurance?

How long may I use the space? Is there a minimum of maximum rental time requirement? Are there fees charged if we stay longer than the allotted time?

Who is responsible for setting up and tearing down the event? What are my options? How early may we get in to the site for set up? Are there any decoration limitations?

Do you have an in house cater? If so, do I have the option of bringing in my own in my own caterer?

Are cakes made on the premise, or am I allowed to bring in a cake from the outside?

Are you licensed to provide alcohol service? If so, how is the alcohol priced? Is there an option for a hosted bar, a cash bar or a combination of the two?

Can I bring in my own vendors or must I select vendors from you preferred vendor list?

Is there parking on site? Is it complimentary? Do you offer valet parking and if so, what is the charge?

Do you offer on-site planning and coordination? Are there additional charges for this service? Will I be assigned to one planner that I will be in contact with the entire time and will they be there the day of my wedding?

Do you have overnight accommodations available for my guests? If so, do you offer group discounts to those in attendance?

How to Make Fancy Chocolate Swirls to Decorate Desserts at Home

How to Make Fancy Chocolate Swirls to Decorate Desserts at Home Blog Entry Image

In honor of National Chocolate Day, we thought we’d share how to make those fancy-pants chocolate swirls you always see on top of cakes and elegant desserts at weddings or corporate events.

Things you will need:
• 1 bar of semi-sweet baking chocolate
• 1 tablespoon of vegetable shortening (Crisco)
• Microwave-safe bowl
• Fork
• Metal cookie sheet
• Flat spatula
• Sharp-edged spatula

Instructions:
1. Place three squares of chocolate and one tablespoon of shortening into a microwave-safe bowl.
2. Place the bowl into the microwave and heat on high 30 to 45 seconds, or until the shortening is melted.
3. Remove from the microwave and stir with a fork until the chocolate and shortening are thoroughly combined.
4. Take your metal cookie sheet and turn it upside down. Pour your melted chocolate on top.
5. Using a flat spatula, spread the chocolate out on the sheet in an extremely thin layer.
6. Place the chocolate-covered cookie sheet in the freezer and let set for about two minutes. You know it’s ready when you press on it with your finger and it leaves a slight fingermark, but not a depression.
7. Use a sharp-edged spatula and begin to scrape the chocolate from the bottom of the pan. When the chocolate is just the right temperature, it will curl instead of break. If it’s too hard, let it set out a minute to soften/warmup.
8. Throughout the scraping process, if the chocolate gets too hard, give it a minute, and then try again. If it gets too soft, stick it back in the freezer for a minute.

And voila! You’ll have a bunch of fancy little chocolate curls!

Note: Transfer the curls to a cold pan or plate as son as possible and stick them in the freezer to harden. You can prepare these ahead of time too and store them in the freezer in a plastic bag until you need them.

Wedding Photography Questions Answered

Wedding Photography Questions Answered Blog Entry Image

There are articles and stories and lists and more lists of generic questions to ask your wedding photographer – but what about what they don’t WANT to tell you? This wedding photographer and blogger tells all about what wedding photographers want to tell you, but can’t.

Mike Allebach of Allebach Photography provided a guest post on the Offbeat Bride blog about 12 Things Wedding Photographers Want To Tell You, But Can’t. It’s refreshing to hear the inside scoop, so here’s a snippet from the post, which you can find here.

A few things we all want to know:

Why is wedding photography so freakin’ expensive?
Wedding photography seems like easy money – work for one day and rake in the cash, right? But most full-time wedding photographers I know carry over $15,000 worth of wedding gear and often work 60-hour weeks. It takes several days to edit the thousand of images, plus add insurance, taxes, software, advertising, albums, repair, shipping and studio expenses and many photographers end up making less than minimum wage for the first few years of their career.

Do I really need a second photographer?
No one needs a second photographer, but they can provide you with more images and a different perspective. Many of the top photographers only work with assistants who carry gear and help with professional lighting. The best thing is to ask your wedding photographer to see how they prefer to work. You can get good results either way.

Should I tip my photographer?
I get asked this a lot. There was a great article about tipping on Offbeat Bride. For photographers, “Tips are never expected but are always appreciated.”

What question do want the real answer to in your wedding planning process?

Bridal Style: Can You Spot What’s Hot?

Bridal Style: Can You Spot What’s Hot? Blog Entry Image

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but style – while a personal choice – is still in the eye of the designer. Take a look at our image galley of wedding gowns and see if you can spot what’s trending in bridal style today.

Don’t cheat – have you looked at the photos below? Of the six images, one dress does NOT represent wedding style today. Did you notice which one?

The wedding dress trends to keep an eye on are short-skirted dresses, dramatic backs, appliqués, peplums and capes and wraps.

Short Skirts
As weddings become a bit less formal and take place in exotic locales, brides are looking for perfectly styled, yet practically minded dresses to say their “I dos.” Short skirts and dresses meet this need and designers have taken note with some standout options for brides.

Backs In Style
Why not focus on your back when that’s what most of your guests will be looking at during your ceremony? There are some heavenly designs to showcase the best of your (upper) backside that feature sheer panels, gorgeous draping, intricate lace detail and more.

Applying Appliqués
Designers are adorning dresses with appliqué pieces to enhance certain areas of the dress or just to modify the style of the dress. Just don’t over apply!

Peppy With Peplums
Giving your dress more movement and motion, a peplum is an on-trend design feature fit for the runway and the isle. You can dress it up or keep it simple, either way you’ll be turning heads.

Capes and Wrapes
While the thought of a cape brings to mind superheroes, the designer ones for bridal style are dainty and delightful. The cape and/or a wrap is a perfect way to have that designer look even in cooler climates.

Cake Topper
This would be in the what’s not so hot section. A dress that looks like it belongs on the top of a cake in the 80s is not quite the image most brides want to exude. Experts say to make sure you’re wearing the dress instead of the dress wearing you!

What’s your bridal style?

The Peplum Thumb Capes and Wraps Thumb Dramatic Backs Thumb Short Skirts Thumb

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