Insider's Tips: Tip #38 - where is your minister after the wedding?

Yay, you're married!  Wonderful, let's start the celebration.  But wait, where is the minister?  You need him to sign the marriage license.  Ugh.  Read on to find out about this cool tip we saw recently at a wedding.

The couple and minister signed the marriage license right during the wedding ceremony! It was perfect!  Right after the couple lit the unity candle, they signed it.  And it was done.  No need to chase after anyone after the ceremony.  Cross it off your to-do list.  Plus it is a great time and place for a photo/video opportunity! 

Photo courtesy of  Unplugged Photography  /  Rabbi Barry
Insider's Tips: Tip #37 - An alternate way to have fun at your wedding!
Photo courtesy of  Jerrod Brown Studios

Photo courtesy of Jerrod Brown Studios

Years ago, we did our first wedding with an After Party.  The bride wanted a nice ceremony with the grandmother-approved reception.  She had lot of family and friends that wanted to wish she and her husband well. And that is what they got.  They visited with everyone, cut the cake and threw the garter.  Done.  

Then the younger folks and the photographer and videographer jumped in our cars and went to a separate location for the After Party. I think it was at B & A Warehouse.  And that was really where the fun began!  They had karoke, snacks, and an open bar.  Definitely not grandmother approved, but it was what the bride wanted.  What a way to compromise.  And for the record, we actually delivered two versions of their video...

We have seen the After Party for many reasons - lots because of grandparents, but what about if you just can't afford to have an open bar for that many people or if you just don't want to invite that many people to your reception but because of family issues, you must.  Compromise.  

The After Party doesn't have to be 300 guests.  Invite who you want and think outside the box.

Insider's Tips: Tip #36 - How to NOT look like you have tarantulas on your face (and other wedding day fears)!

Everyone does false eyelashes for their wedding and why not, the results are amazing!  I really can't believe the difference! But make sure you hire a professional makeup artist; they really know what they are doing and won't make you look like you have a tarantula on your face! 

Jackie Robinson with RawwBeauty uses DUO adhesive lash glue which is a latex glue so it comes off easy but at the same time won't come off when you are wearing them.  After you've been dancing the night away at your wedding reception, you can just pull from the outside to the nose like a bandaid to remove them. They won't pull out your lashes and it won't hurt. 

If you are careful and remove the way she suggested, you can use them again when you want to feel gorgeous!

Wedding Day Hair and Makeup by  RawwBeauty  / Photo courtesy of  AL Weddings

Wedding Day Hair and Makeup by RawwBeauty / Photo courtesy of AL Weddings

Insider's Tips Tip #35 - Don't let kids ruin your wedding ceremony!

I love kids.  I love kids in weddings.  I love the unpredictable nature of kids in weddings.  But I'm also a mom.  And here is my mom advice.

When you first get engaged and you are picking out your wedding party, a lot of times you will have beautiful nieces and nephews that you want to be included.  Sometimes they are a bit young, but even if they cry all the way down the aisle, they still are cute.  And you have to include them.  Completely understandable! But we need to make a plan for their day.  

Photo courtesy of  Dee Moore Photography

Photo courtesy of Dee Moore Photography

We all know a wedding day is a long day.  Sometimes the wedding party is arriving at the church 5 or 6 hours before the ceremony time for getting ready and pictures and things.  It is necessary for this extra time as there is so much to be done before the ceremony starts.  But it is so hard on the kids and their moms.  Especially if mom and dad are both in the wedding party.  What about if the go-to grandparent is your parent too and is in the wedding party.  There is no one that can deal with the kids.  Can you imagine your mom, in her beautiful dress that is not meant to be bending down and picking up kids, trying to bend down and soothe her grandbaby... It is stressful.  And it is your wedding day, you don't want anymore stress!

That is what this really is about - the stress level and how it can be helped.  This is not about not having kids in the wedding (I want to make sure that you understand my point here).  It is about preparation.  

During a long day at one of our weddings a few years ago, the family was prepared.  It was a large family with lots of nieces and nephews and everyone (even the parents) were included in the wedding party.  They came prepared with 4 babysitters for the day.  It was awesome!

The babysitters arrived at the church with Happy Meals for all of the kids (because remember the finger foods you and your bridesmaids might be enjoying, might not appeal to the little ones).  And if the poor kids can't have a nap on such a long day, can't they at least have something to eat that they like???  These babysitters were also playmates that didn't have to worry about getting dressed with makeup on to take lots of photos!!  

And don't forget a wedding ceremony can be extremely long for a little one.  I love the trend of letting the littles walk down the aisle and go directly to sit down with a loved one.  It is the best of both worlds.  

You don't want your sister to have to juggle hold her child while wanting to celebrate with you on your wedding day. Plan ahead!  Thank goodness for the babysitters!!  It allowed for a stress free day for everyone. 

Insider's Tips: Tip #34 - Don't have a choreographed 1st dance

Another tip from John:

Photo courtesy of  Amanda Pair Photography

Photo courtesy of Amanda Pair Photography

Unless you are trained ballroom dancers, then the choregraphed first dance is for the audience, not for the bride and groom.  The first dance should be a time that you as a very new couple can look back on the day and talk about it.  Look around the room and see your reception and anticipate the evening.  

It is not a time to be counting, one, two, three, four.  One, two, three, four.  You wonder how we know that you are counting?  We can read it on your lips in the video.  We can see that you are not caught up in the magical moment of the first dance, but you are trying not to fall down or trip.  

The traditional sway, aka the middle school sway, is a classic for a reason.  Anyone can do it.  And we can get better footage because you are spending your time looking into your husband's/wife's eyes.  You only get one first dance, fill it with romance.

Insider's Tips: Tip #33 - 4 little known facts about the unity candle


I know, it's pretty cheesy, but you are still reading....

The unity candle.  I know that when John and I were going to get married, we told the families that we were not having a unity candle.  At the time I didn't realize that it was going to cause WWIII.  My goodness, I just didn't want to deal with another thing during the ceremony.  I wasn't denouncing my religion!  I understand the symbolism and I can appreciate it.  And we see it all of the time and it is very beautiful.  But here are four issues.  And the last is the kicker!

1 - Wide candles or thin candles in wide glass containers don't work.  In order to get the middle candle to light (while you are your groom are standing up there in front of 300 people), you practically have to turn the wide candle completely upside down.  The wic is just too far apart.  And now you have melted wax all over.  Practice at home if you don't believe me.  Sometimes it is a good thing that the Lord's Prayer is very long when sung as a solo.  

2 - Parents don't understand which side to light.  I know that the church lady goes over this during the rehearsal, but once again, remember all of those people you are standing in front of.

3-  Half of the time, a lighter (fine for grilling out, but not so great for a wedding) is left to use for the Unity Candle.  Sometimes this lighter is left on purpose with a ribbon around it.  Or sometimes, someone forgets to light the "starter" candle for the parents and a guest gives the parents their lighter to use.  In case you don't know, most moms don't know how to use a lighter or how to turn off the safety switch.  

4 - And finally, the last little piece of information that I have about the unity candle.  Several years ago,, I was speaking with Alene with I Do, I Do Wedding Planning about unity candles. She told me that they don't have a religious background at all.  I didn't believe her.  Remember the WWIII that I almost started with my crazy ways????  Well, she was right.  Google it.  The Unity Candle was popularized by Luke and Laura's TV wedding in the 70s.  Here is one article..

I would like to end this tip with a reminder from a previous tip.  Shorten the unity candle song, if you can.  If all goes well, you do not need 4 minutes to light one candle.   

angela deaverComment
Insider's Tips: Tip #32 - How to feed cake to hundreds of people, quickly.

From a recent wedding:

A delicious slice of  Olexa's  cake! Photo courtesy of Urban Spoon.

A delicious slice of Olexa's cake! Photo courtesy of Urban Spoon.

When the guests arrived at the wedding reception they were treated to the buffet of food and drinks.  This is standard - keeps them occupied and happy while you are finishing up pictures!  When the couple arrived on scene, they immediately cut the cake.  By this time the guests were ready for dessert, so it worked out nicely.  


The great thing was that as soon as they cut the cake for photos and video, the servers brought out already cut slices and handed them out to people, while another two servers starting cutting the actual cake.  It helped for there not to be a line of people waiting for wedding cake!  Brilliant!  This is especially helpful if you are having a shorter wedding reception.  

angela deaverComment
Insider's Tips: Tip #31 - Actually look at your groom, really.

Everyone knows that they are going to be nervous on their wedding day.  Standing in front of 100s of people trying to repeat the words that the minister is asking you to do, without embarrassing yourself, is very nerve racking.  And I am not trying to add something to your list of things to do, but it is actually something that you can take care of before the wedding day.

When you guys sit down with your pastor, ask him/her to include in the vows and ring ceremony for you both to face each other first.  Let me try to explain.  Because this seems like an easy one - the natural way is to turn to someone when you are speaking to them, but when you are up there and the minister is feeding you your "lines" you start talking to him and forget to turn to your spouse-to-be.  Most of the time there is this awkward wanting to talk to your spouse, but you are looking at the minister for the next line.  All the while we are getting video of the back of your head (because let's remember the church's restrictions on camera placement) instead of your faces.  Same goes with the rings.  We want you to turn out so that the audience can see what you are doing.  

The perfect, easy solution is coming up!  We have heard this done many times and it sounds very natural.  This is what the minister should say,  "Now Suzy, face Billy and repeat after me."  Easy as that! It works perfectly and your photographer and videographer will get great shots of your face as you say the most sacred of vows.  Trust me on this one.  

Insider's Tips: Tip #30 - Avoid shuttle disasters

Are we there yet?

This is a pretty simple tip that I am sure most of you can figure out why it is important.  If you are hiring a shuttle service for your guests and bridal party, please make sure that the driver is actually from the area of your wedding, not the area that you might be planning the wedding from.  

Photo courtesy of  David Boyd Photography

Photo courtesy of David Boyd Photography

The driver asking directions from the guests is "ok" early on in the day, but after everyone has had a cocktail or two, then it is not that effective.  The driver should really know where he is going.  And remember, this actually happened at a destination wedding one time.  Ugh.

Insider's Tips: Tip #29 - How NOT to cut your cake!

Practice the cake cutting.  Cut, cut, stab (as I like to call it).

Many years ago we had a couple that was cutting the bride's cake and the groom absent-mindedly fed himself cake before feeding it to his new bride.  It was pretty funny then (and now)!  If you want to see a clip of it, here it is.  Please keep in mind that it is just raw footage so it won't be the masterpiece you are expecting from us!!!  And really do yourself a favor and skip to :45 into the clip.  

We understand that you don't cut this sort of cake every day and it is kind of weird to have to cut it with your hand here and his hand there and wait for the photographer to take the picture.  BUT IT IS JUST CAKE; JUST CUT IT HOW YOU WANT!!!  Guys, please do keep in mind that your bride's mouth might not be as big as yours and don't feed her a bite that you would take, but maybe half of the size.  

No one ever knows how to cut the cake without instruction, which is fine.  Just wait until your instructors have moved away until you start cutting the cake.  That way your pictures and video won't have half of the serving staff in them. 

Here is an instructional article that we found that may provide some assistance before the wedding.  

Insider's Tips: Tip #28 - How to preserve the family heirloom, handkerchief, on a wedding day
Photo courtesy of  Daniel Taylor Photography

Photo courtesy of Daniel Taylor Photography

Many times brides are lucky enough to carry a special handkerchief from their grandmother or great aunt or some loved family member.  It is often their "something old."  Brides normally carry it with their bouquet of flowers.  

Recently we saw the bride give it to her groom to put it in his pocket.  This is a great idea for two reasons.  One it doesn't get ruined if the flower stems rub and stain the delicate handkerchief.  And secondly, it is very sweet that the groom offer his bride a cloth if she starts crying during the ceremony!  

What a neat idea!


Insider's Tips: Tip #27 - Don't ruin the wedding day! Get a full tank of gas
Photo courtesy of  J.Woodbery Photography

Photo courtesy of J.Woodbery Photography

This latest tip came from an actual conversation that I overheard a couple of years ago.  The mother of the bride was talking to a guest about how crazy her morning had been. The weather was terrible and they had a million things to do before coming to the church. Would you like to guess what happened?

She gets in her car to zoom off to the church with the daughter, the bride, and she doesn't have any gas.  So nervous and excited bride + crazy busy mom + gas station = NO FUN!  

So my advice is anticipate all of the trips back and forth to the church for the rehearsal or dropping off dresses and fill up your car on Thursday before the wedding.  You will thank me later!


Insider's Tips: Tip #26 - Phones on a wedding day

Can you hear me now?

Photo courtesy of  Unplugged Photography

Photo courtesy of Unplugged Photography

This week's tip is from John, so it will be short and sweet and not too wordy.  Give your cell phone to a bridesmaid early in the am of your wedding day.  I would hope that if someone NEEDED to get a hold of you, then they would first try someone else.  But you don't need to deal with having to answer the phone and give directions or times while you are getting your hair done or putting your dress on.  

An idea from the lovely ladies with Engaged, A Wedding Library said maybe even record a cute message saying you are in the process of becoming the NEW Mrs. ______ and give them another number to call.  

I would also like to add that this also applies to the mom of the bride as well.  

Insider's Tips: Tip #25 - Church Audio

Several summers ago we filmed a beautiful wedding at a local church.  Everything was just perfect for the day.  During the ceremony, one of the mics that was on a soloist went out right before he was about to sing.  When a mic goes bad, it doesn't just stop working, it transmits this awful sounding static that is heard by everyone in the church.  

Photo courtesy of  David Boyd Photography 

Photo courtesy of David Boyd Photography 

I guess these things happen. The problem was that as soon as it started, we looked over to the sound board for the operator to fix the problem on the board and no one was there.  Yikes!  The sound board was turned on by the church, but they didn't have anyone to operate it.  I don't know if this is normal policy for lots of churches, but come on, the ceremony is under 45 minutes usually, can't the church pay someone to be there!!!!! 

If someone had been working, they could have had the ability to fix the mic problem or if nothing else, pull his mic altogether.  Because trust me, this guy could have carried the entire church without using a mic!  To make it worse, people were looking at us to fix the problem, but we couldn't.  It wasn't our sound board, and we are running cameras.  Needless to say, for the final edit, we tried and tried to minimize the static on the video, and we made HUGE improvements, but you could still hear it.  Thankfully the wonderful bride and her family didn't let it ruin the day. (This beautiful photo below was not from the wedding in question.)

Moral of the story, make sure that the church not only has a sound board, but also an operator for your wedding.  

Insider's Tips: Tip #24 - Wedding Dress Help

Another great tip from Cathy Kelly at The White Room.  Whoever is helping the bride put her dress on, MUST NOT be wearing colored nail polish.  Clear or a french manicure is acceptable.  Otherwise you can get streaks of color onto the white dress!  Yikes!  Can you imagine getting ready for pictures on your wedding day and your mom's freshly painted nails scrape against your dress?  The next thing you know, you are trying to find something to get the streak of nail polish off the back of the dress.  Remember this does apply for bridal sessions too!  

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Crochet hooks are a must if you have a million buttons on the back of your dress!  It will save hours!  Not really, but it seems that way!  And maybe Wal-Mart has a two pack because I personally think it is a good idea to pack an extra in your overnight bag for your honeymoon night.  Not only will your groom not be a big fan of having to undo 25 little tiny hooks, but I also doubt that he will be very patient in this process.  

We have clients that chose for the wedding planner or a mom to unhook the little buttons (leaving the zipper untouched) before leaving the reception.  By that point in the evening, no one will ever notice that you have the hooks unhooked.  It is just unnecessary stress for your groom to have to deal with it.  

Insider's Tips: Tip #23 - Referrals

"He said, she said."

I don't read all of the traditional wedding blogs with tips and checklists and all of that.  I read it when I was planning our wedding, but really not since, so I hope you won't find any similarities.  The point of the Insider's Tips is to try to post things that you might not have heard of/thought of/seen before.  

With all of that said, my next tip might be one that you have heard about before.  But it is really important, so I wanted to post it.  

I think we have established that it is hard to pick out vendors for your wedding.  You don't know who to trust or who will do a good job.  If you have a friend that has recently gotten married, then she is a great resource.  But don't overlook the great resource that one of your already booked vendors can be.  

Now of course, I love receiving referrals.  A very large portion of our business comes from referrals, so I don't take this lightly.  But I really love giving referrals to brides.  After all, this is our world.  We work with a whole lot of people - we know the quality professionals to refer you to.  Anyone can spend a million dollars on advertising claiming to be the best whatever, but just because you have money, it doesn't mean that you care about your work or your clients.  Double check with a few of your wedding vendors to see who they can recommend.  

Photo courtesy of  Stacy Richardson Photography  - gorgeous bouquet by  HotHouse Design Studio

Photo courtesy of Stacy Richardson Photography - gorgeous bouquet by HotHouse Design Studio

Insider's Tips: Tip #22 - Lavender

You'll poke your eye out!

You would think that I have learned my lesson after posting a controversial topic on here (seeing each other before), but no.  I just don't really know what to think about this trend of throwing lavender at the bride and groom when leaving the reception.  The times that we have seen this done, it seems to clump and then acts as a weapon against the couple.  John says that the humidity in the South aids in the "clumpiness."  Everyone is also immersed in a cloud of lavender after the couple runs through.  It might smell wonderful in small doses, but when 3 gallons of it is throw at your head, you might think otherwise. It does make for a great photo...

I like the glow stick idea, where it doesn't matter about the amount of alcohol you did or did not consume, no one gets hurt.   

Photo courtesy of Simple Color Photography

Photo courtesy of Simple Color Photography

Insider's Tips: Tip #21 - Protect the Dress

X marks the Spot!

Ok loyal readers, you better really enjoy these titles!  I think that they are hilarious and I try to keep coming up with great ones each week!!!

This tip is actually one that I heard early in 2010 at a local ABC meeting where Cathy Kelly from the White Room was speaking.  I can't remember all of the tips she gave that night; they were so many wonderful ideas to take back.  But this week is to help brides to keep their wedding dress clean the day of (and really during your bridal session too).  

Photo courtesy of  Allison Lewis Photography  - Regions Field

Photo courtesy of Allison Lewis Photography - Regions Field

Take a white bed sheet, place it on the floor and cut an X in it.  When it comes time for the photo session, lay the sheet down on the ground/floor and step on the X.  Now grab the corners of the sheet and pull them up to you.  Walk where you need to go.   When you get to the site of the picture, just place the sheet down and have someone hide it under your dress.  You are able to surround your wedding dress with a protective covering.  Viola!  

Some of the best footage for us comes from when the bride is willing to go the distance to get some really great shots, for example, in the woods at the Sonnet House or through a dandelion patch.   With the sheet surrounding the dress, you don't have to worry about getting it dirty AND you still get those amazing shots! 

Insider's Tips: Tip #20 - Mic Stand for Rehearsal Dinner

Is this thing on?

Not only is my next tip one that can help you, as the bride, but it also makes our life easier too!  It's a win-win!

Here in the South, the majority of the toasts are done the day before the wedding at the rehearsal dinner.  Not only do you need to hire a professional to capture those priceless moments, but please also ask you venue for a mic stand.  

It will require your guests who are giving a toast to come up to the front of the room where everyone can see them.  (And maybe even stand in the lighted part of the room.) For your videographer, this helps tremendously!!  If you don't have a mic stand, people think that they can just stand up at their table and speak loud enough for people to see/hear them, while we are trying to get a camera focused on them from across the room.  

We are also able to plug our audio recording devices into the mic so that we get crystal clear audio on that special toast when your "never cries EVER" dad, tells you and everyone how proud he is of you, and how he couldn't have asked for a better guy than your fiancé.  Those are the priceless moments that we capture at the rehearsal dinner.

The video clip below starts with very compelling audio from the rehearsal dinner.  We are so glad that they hired us to film it AND used a professional mic setup. 

Insider's Tips: Tip #19 - Practice the Flutes

Practice makes perfect.

Photo courtesy of  David Boyd Photography

Photo courtesy of David Boyd Photography

Tradition has a lot to do with what is done at a wedding.  Interlocking the arms and drinking from the champagne flutes is a picture that everyone wants.  But it is the most awkward position to be in.  And it doesn't work if the bride and groom are more than 4 inches different in height, trust me.

But they say practice makes perfect, so spend an evening practicing.  Maybe even get out that old game of Twister to try to make it work!  No really, just remember that the goal is to drink out of your own glass.  Gracefully, please, if you don't mind.   And if it doesn't work, then you spent your whole evening drinking wine or champagne.  Darn!  

I like the newer tradition of just holding the glasses out in front of you and having the picture made then. Less trouble.  Same effect.