Category Archives: For the Groom-to-Be

Tis the Season!

Engagement season that is!  Starting around Thanksgiving and rolling through to Valentine’s Day, engagement season is at its prime!  I love the idea of hiring a professional photographer to snap photos of your proposal (hint, hint gentlemen!)  Having a professional photographer will allow you to get some fabulous photos of that very special moment that she will remember forever!  Check these out!

Photo courtesy of Katelyn James Photography

Photo courtesy of Chelsa Yoder Photography

Photo courtesy of Barb Spencer Photography

Photo courtesy of Barb Spencer Photography

Happy Tuesday!


Wedding Rehearsal How-To

This weekend I will be conducting two wedding rehearsals.  One for Nicole & Mike’s wedding and one I will be conducting Saturday afternoon for Courtney‘s Sunday couple.  Wedding rehearsals can sometimes seem tedious and unnecessary…however they prove very beneficial in making sure that your ceremony runs smoothly and according to plan.  Here some tips on how to have a successful and productive wedding rehearsal:

The Purpose — Wedding rehearsals give you an opportunity to figure out logistics for all the little details of your ceremony (i.e. entering, exiting, where to stand, etc.).  Rehearsing them allows your ceremony to run as smoothly as possible.

Who Should Attend — All members of the wedding party and anyone else who is involved in the ceremony (i.e. bride, groom, best man, maid of honor, bridesmaids, groomsmen, ushers, flower girl, ring bearer, readers, parents, grandparents…).  Some vendors such as musicians/DJs or photographers/videographers may also want to attend to rehearse their part in the ceremony as well.

Photo credit: Travis Hoehne Photography

Before the rehearsal — Introduce everyone and tell everyone where they should go when they arrive for the wedding.  Discuss when photos will be taken.

Step One — Line up the wedding party where they will be standing for the ceremony.  Here’s a sample ceremony lineup from Suzanne & Peter’s wedding:

Step Two — Practice the recessional (exit) first.  Practice how the bridal party will exit (i.e. couple first, flower girl & ring bearer, attendants meeting each other in the center and walking out as couples, bride’s parents, groom’s parents, bride’s grandparents, groom’s grandparents).

Photo credit: Travis Hoehne Photography

Step Three — Practice seating the guests.  Let the ushers know which rows are reserved for who and practice escorting special guests such as grandparents or other family members (if they are not part of the processional).

Step Four — Practice the processional.  The wedding party should enter and lineup the way they were in Step One.  Typically, the groom and his attendants follow the officiant in (to stand on the officiant’s left).  Bridesmaids walk in one-by-one with the last (outside) bridesmaid walking in first.  The Maid of Honor follows the bridesmaids.  Next the flower girl (and ring bearer if he did not walk in with the groomsmen) will walk in.  The bride enters with her escort on her right.  Practice the escort’s role in “giving away” the bride.

Photo credit: Travis Hoehne Photography

Step Five — Practice the ceremony.  While it’s not necessary to run through the entire ceremony word-for-word, it is important to practice major highlights of the ceremony (i.e. when the readers will go up to the altar, when the lighting of a unity will take place, etc.). Practice with any special props that you can, such as handing off the bouquet (Suzanne used a “bouquet” from her bridal shower) or giving the rings (use fake rings), etc.

Suzanne & her father | Photo credit: Suzanne's Cousin Jane

Step Six — Practice the recessional again.

Typically, you will need to run through the rehearsal at least one more time to be sure all players remember their roles in the ceremony.

Happy Wednesday!


Details I Love — Unique Boutonnieres

Let’s face it ladies, your fiance has sat back quietly as you showed him magazine articles of dresses and rings and wedding details, come with you to pick flowers and colors, and has probably listened to one or two pre-wedding meltdowns.  The groom and groomsmen’s boutonnieres are yet another opportunity to add a little personality to your wedding. Let your guy’s boutonniere reflect his personality and interests, while still maintaining the wedding theme.  Or, just have a little fun making them unique and interesting!

Photo via Jeff Greenough

Happy Monday!

Inspired by Music City

Between learning to play my acoustic guitar (which I’ve had for 12 years) & our recent visit/upcoming move to Nashville, I have been feeling very Music City-inspired.  Even though it’s not quite Friday (I’m heading to the beach tomorrow so no blog post!), I wanted to share an inspiration board today with a very cool music theme.  Here’s the picture that originally inspired me:

And here’s my inspiration board:

Happy Thursday! 

Have a relaxing & safe Labor Day Weekend ya’ll!  Next post on Tuesday!

Wedding Vendor Tipping

Tipping vendors is one area where many couples feel totally lost.  Who are you supposed to tip?  How much is appropriate?  I have been asked questions like these quite a few times recently, so I decided to go ahead and tackle the issue.  Here are the general rules of thumb…

“Rewarding vendors with a tip is expected, and it will serve as a thank-you for a job well done” (Martha Stewart Weddings).

The Knot outlines the basic protocol and standard dollar amounts for your different wedding vendors:

  • Wedding Coordinator
    • Protocol: Optional
    • Standard: Up to $500, or a nice gift
    • “Wedding planners won’t likely expect anything; however, if yours did a great job you can always offer a token of your appreciation.”
  • Wedding Hair/Makeup stylists
    • Protocol: Expected
    • Standard: 15-20%, depending on quality of service
  • Wedding Delivery & Setup Staff
    • Protocol: Expected
    • Standard: $5-10 per person
  • Ceremony Officiant
    • Protocol: Expected (depending on officiant)
    • Standard: Donate $500+ to church or synagogue, or, for nondenominational officiant, optional tip of $50-100
  • Ceremony Musicians
    • Protocol: Optional
    • Standard: $15-20 per musician
  • Photographer/Videographer
    • Protocol: Unnecessary, unless the photographer is not the studio owner
    • Standard: $50-200 per vendor
    • “You’re not expected to give your shutterbugs any dough beyond their normal fees.  Yet if the wedding photographer or videographer doesn’t own the studio, consider tipping each person (or give a certain amount with a thank-you note to disperse to staff).”
  • Reception Staff (i.e. on-site coordinator, maitre d’, banquet manager)
    • Protocol: Expected
    • Standard: 15-20% of food & drink fee
    • “A service charge is almost always built in to the food and drink fee, so check your contract.  If the gratuity is not included, tip [is expected].”
  • Reception Attendants (i.e. bartenders, waitstaff, parking, bathroom, coatroom attendants)
    • Protocol: Optional, based on contract
    • Standard: $20-25 per bartender or waiter; $1 per guest for coat room attendants; $1 per car for parking attendants
    • “If the service fee is included [in your contract], consider doling out extra only if the service was exceptional.  If it’s not included, ask ahead of time how many attendants will be working your wedding and calculate on a per person basis.”
  • Reception Band or DJ
    • Protocol: Optional, yet preferred
    • Standard: $20-25 per musician; $50-150 for DJs
    • “Don’t forget about any sound technicians they bring with them.”
  • Transportation
    • Protocol: Expected
    • Standard: 15-20% of the total bill
    • “Again, check your contract, as gratuity is usually included.  If it isn’t, plan to tip provided they show up on time and don’t get lost!”
  • Vendors you’re not expected to tip:
    • Bridal Salon
    • Cake baker
    • Chef/sous chef
    • Invitation Designer
    • Florist
    • General Manager
    • Party Rental Company

Courtney Swierczek, of A Sweet Soiree Events, explains, “The rule of thumb is that anyone who owns their own business doesn’t need to be tipped as 100% of their fees go to them. Anyone who doesn’t, it’s nice to tip them. It’s usually good to also tip the catering staff about $20 per person, as well as anyone’s service that you felt went above and beyond your expectations.”

Vendor tips can add up, but keep in mind the amount of work each person is putting in to make your wedding day dreams come alive and make sure that it is the most special day of your life.  It’s always nice to reward your vendors for their hard work, especially when you are happy with their services!

Happy Tuesday!

Details I Love — Fabulous Bridal Party Gifts

Looking for something unique to give your bridesmaids/groomsmen?  Check out these cool gift ideas!


Tote with wedding day accessories -- Photo via

Personalized travel mugs -- Photo via

Personalized Robes -- Photo via

Personalized Robes -- Photo via

Bridesmaid Clutch -- Photo via

Personalized reusable (eco-friendly) coffee sleeve -- Photo via

DIY decorative letters -- Photo via

Personalized Totes -- Photo via

Personalized Coozie -- Photo via


Personalized Pocket Watch -- Photo via

Personalized Tailgating seat/cooler -- Photo via

Personalized stainless coozie -- Photo via

Personalized wallet -- Photo via

Specialized drink set -- Photo via

Personalized tie bar -- Photo via (Uncommon Goods)

Personalized tie bar / cufflinks -- Photo via

Personalized Money Clip -- Photo via

Personalized Grill Set -- Photo via

Personalized Pocket Knife -- Photo via

Happy Wednesday!

Remembering Lost Loved Ones…

When I was very young, my mom and I listened to Pink’s song, Dear Diary, and when my mom heard the words “I’ve got a guardian angel tattooed on my shoulder, she’s been watching over me,” she said that one day we would have to do that.  Well, mom still hasn’t gotten the tattoo on her shoulder, but this weekend, I had my grandmother’s initials (in her handwriting) along with her favorite bird and flowers (because every time I see one I think of her) tattooed on my shoulder.  (The initials are backwards because I had to use the mirror…so emo, I know…haha)

Tattoo artist: Jason Camfiord -- Hybrid Tattoo, Woodbridge, VA

I’ll never forget the day, working at Giorgio’s Restaurant my junior year of high school, that I got a phone call from my mom saying, “Kell, we need to go to the hospital.  Grandma Finnegan is very sick and we’re not sure if she’s going to make it.”  I rushed out of work immediately.  I remember standing in the room with my older sister, holding my grandmother’s hand and kissing her forehead.  A few days later, Grandma was out of the hospital and being transported to a nursing home where her Alzheimer’s symptoms could better be treated and controlled.  Other than being confined to a wheel chair, she seemed just fine.

Me, Grandma, & my brother, James

As the years went by, however, Grandma’s condition continued to worsen.  It started with hallucinations, imagining that people were in the room or believing that she had gone to visit Diana (my sister), or someone else.  Eventually, she needed help with tasks such as getting up and into her chair, using the restroom, and showering.  Her speech started to make less and less sense…she would say a bunch of random words that didn’t make a sensible sentence.  By the last year, she could only mumble sounds and eventually, it seemed that she could barely acknowledge someone’s presence in the room.

Family picture -- (From top left) Me, brother James, brother-in-law Chris, Dad, niece Jaden, Grandma, and sister Diana with "Spike"

The first time I went to visit her following my engagement, I was so excited to see her and tell her.  I had already made up my mind…I would pay any amount of money to hire a nurse so that I could have my grandmother at my wedding.  That day, however, I left in tears.  It was the first time I really realized how sick she was and realized that she would never see me get married.  I was heartbroken.  She passed away on March 28, 2010, just two months shy of my college graduation.  Now, I will always have my guardian angel on my shoulder.

It’s very sad & emotional when someone you love and care about so dearly cannot be there (physically) for one of the biggest days of your lives.  However, there are so many ways to honor and remember lost loved ones on your wedding day.  Bridget Mora explains that it is important, though, that you maintain a careful balance.  “You want to find a way to do it that is upbeat, so you do not turn a joyous occasion into a somber one…Also, take into consideration the feelings of any wedding guests who were also close to the departed; it might be a good idea to let them know your plans in advance, so they are not overcome with emotion on the wedding day” (Source).

Here are some ideas for paying tribute to lost loved ones on your wedding day:

1).  Flowers –Place a white rose (or any kind of flowers) in an empty chair as you walk down the altar


2).  Remembrance Tables —  Place a photo of your loved one on a table…many couples put out old wedding photos of loved ones.


3).  Loving Words — Include something in your program or ask your Officiant to say a few words during the ceremony.


4).  Music — Have a special song played or sung in memory of the person or do your first dance to the same song that he or she had at their wedding.


5).  Food — Make a favorite food or drink that reminds you of the person (i.e. a famous family recipe, etc.)


6).  Donations — If you lost someone to a physical illness, such as Alzheimer’s or breast cancer, place a donation in the person’s honor in lieu of favors.


7).  Symbols — Jewelry, such as a locket or old pearls…these can also be attached to your bouquet for a special touch; clothing, such as a veil or wedding dress…or tuxes or cufflinks


8).  Candle-lighting —  Light a candle in memory of the loved on or have family members light your unity candle for those who cannot be there.


9).  Customs/Traditions —  Honor old customs and traditions in remembrance of them (i.e. something that celebrates their heritage).


Happy Monday!

More to come about my crazy weekend in the next few days, including a “Real Wedding!”


Honoring Departed Loved Ones in Your Wedding (Bridget Mora)

Honoring the Deceased During the Wedding Ceremony

Remembering Loved Ones at Your Wedding

**Miss you Grandma.  Always in my heart.  I know you’re watching over me!**

Groom To-Dos (via The Knot)

It’s not often that this blog focuses on the “other-half” of the wedding planning.  Interestingly enough, I actually do have a few male readers!  It’s only fair that I post some tips for the guys.  I mean, after all, guys are often lost and unsure where to even start when it comes to planning a wedding.  That’s why I love The Knot’s article on the Top 10 Tips for Grooms.  If you’re anything like Mbonisi (my August 20 groom) and you want to be involved as much as possible, or even if  you just want to keep your fiance happy during these next crazy months, here’s where to start:

1).  Have an opinion — It’s your wedding too!  Give your opinion about major planning points to let your fiance know that she’s not doing this all alone.  (Source: The Knot)

2).  Relish Your Wedding Registry — No matter how tedious it seems, this is your opportunity ask for those things that you can’t justify buying yourself!  Plus couples often register for less-traditional items such as home electronics, power tools, and camping gear nowadays.  (Source: The Knot)

3).  Don’t Be a Pushover — Try to meet your bride halfway when you have disagreements on things.  “You’ll make her happy and salvage your manhood.”  You shouldn’t completely sacrifice things that you want.  (Source: The Knot)

4).  Give her a Break — Give your fiance a night to relax.  Cook her dinner, rent a movie, do the dishes, etc. so that she doesn’t overload on wedding planning and crumble under the stress.  (Source: The Knot)

5).  Be a Buffer — Keep the peace.  “Take responsibility for communicating with your family so that you can filter out petty worries from legitimate concerns,” rather than leaving all the communicating up to your fiance.  (Source: The Knot)

6).  Get Some Help — If your fiance is really stressing or having trouble with the planning process, suggest hiring a coordinator to handle these details.  (Source: The Knot)

7).  Don’t Add Insult — If your fiance is complaining about her family, “hear her out, agree with her, but don’t take this opportunity to tell her the things about her family that annoys you.”  (Source: The Knot)

8).  Arrange the attire — Fill in your groomsmen on all relevant information about the formal wear.  “Send out detailed emails…Don’t assume they’ll know anything about this stuff.”  Be sure to include your fiance on the emails, too.  (Source: The Knot)

9).  Manage Your Men — Make sure your groomsmen know what their responsibilities are.  Assign responsibilities based on their strengths (i.e. “Know your friend who loses his car keys at least once a week?  Probably better not to make him responsible for bringing your ring to the ceremony.”  (Source: The Knot)

10).  Get Sentimental — Do something sweet and sentimental for her on the day of your wedding (i.e. “…send her a gift, flowers, or a sweet note to read while she’s getting ready.  Or, at the reception, pull the videographer aside and tape a special message to her.”)  (Source: The Knot)

Happy Wednesday!