Thursday, July 24, 2014

Giveaway: Weddings On A Dime eBook, Five Winners (Ends 7/31)

A few months ago, I got a message from  Kristen Castillo, who you may know as @kristencastillo on Twitter, if you hang out with us during #BridalBabble.

She was putting together a Snippet -- it's basically an interactive ebook -- called Weddings on a Dime and wanted to know if she could interview me. If you know me, you know I love to talk, especially about weddings. So I immediately said yes (even though we were doing the interview over Skype, which meant I would have to get prettied up).

Her book finally came out.

She sent me a copy of the book and it's really great. The book is filled with tons of advice about saving money on your wedding, including a bunch of gems from yours truly.

I mean, check this out ...

That's very good advice. And I stand by it. Even if you don't exactly know how much weddings cost or how much you're going to spend, you need to come up with a number in your mind. You have to decide what you will feel morally okay with spending, and that will help you look at venues. There's a great chance that you will underestimate when you arbitrarily select a budget post-engagement and pre-wedding planning but it will give you a good place to start.

There's some other great advice inside, plus videos (although, actually, my video portion isn't working right now so although I know readers can see me, right now, I can only hear myself).

Wanna check out the book? Kristen was awesome and gave me codes to give the book away to five lucky winners. Just an FYI before you enter: There's a Snippet app for smartphones and tablets but if you win, you can’t redeem the code on the app. So it’s best to download the e-book to your desktop/laptop. Be sure to sync the Snippet libraries so you have the e-book on all your devices.

The giveaway starts now and ends at 11:59pm EST on July 31. There will be a total of five winners. Winners must be 18 or older. Winners will have 24 hours to respond to a winning email before another winner will be selected and must understand the process to download the book.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A Bride On A Budget is not responsible for an electronic issues that a winner may have.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Wedding DIY: Meet The Maids Picture Frame

At my bridal shower, my bridesmaids gave me a super cute (although, at the time, unfinished) gift. The morning of my wedding, my maid of honor presented me with the final version.

How super cute is this meet the maids picture frame?

It is really sweet and definitely something you could hang at your wedding, which would be a nice way for the rest of your guests to meet your bridesmaids. You could also make one for your groomsmen too.

This one doesn't have a stand on the back, just hooks to hang it with nails. Since we couldn't nail in the walls at the venue, I couldn't hang it at the reception. But it's definitely something to hang in our home.

What You'll Need:

What You'll Do:

Have the bridesmaids write something about the bride and email it to you.

Print these on pieces of printer paper, varying the fonts.

Glue them to scrapbook paper. Add the names of each bridesmaid with foam sticker letters.

Cut the paper to fit into the slot of the picture frame and add them into the frame.

Stick letters spelling out "Meet The Maids" on the boarder of the frame.

Present it to the bride with a bow.

BRIDAL BABBLE: Would you make this for a bride?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Five Tips For Hiring A Wedding Photographer

There's a difference between taking photos and being a photographer. I can take photos. Heck, anyone with a camera on their phone can take photos. That doesn't make you a photographer. A photographer has an artistic eye that I just don't have. I like to think I take great photos, but then I look at shots from a professional and it puts me in my place. I just don't have the eye or expertise that a professional photographer has.

We talked about photography this week at #BridalBabble and I got to show off photos from our wedding taken by the incredibly amazing Derick & Christy Photography. I'll end up writing a whole love letter to them eventually because I'm just in awe of what they captured. But this post is just a helpful guideline so that you can pick the best wedding photographer and be as enthusiastic with your photos as we are with ours.

1. Decide on your style and find someone who meshes with that.

When Pete and I go out, we take a ton of photos. That's the reason I can't upgrade to iOS 7. With over 3,000 photos on my iPhone, there's just no room for anything else. We are constantly taking photos of everything and everyone … but no one knows. I mean, yes, people will see us with our phones out, but we don't ask people to pose. Everything we shoot is very candid. That's what we like. And that's what I feel are the real moments, the times when people are smiling because they are genuinely happy, not because there's a camera bulb in their face.

So when we were looking for a photographer, we needed to find someone who shared that thought. It was important for us to find someone who focused more of their time on candid photos than posed ones. We wanted family shots, yes, but we wanted someone who would understand how to capture the feel and emotions of the wedding rather than a slew of photos of us in the middle of groups of families.

When we sat down with Christy for a meeting, she let us know up front that they don't take many staged photos. Most of what they take are candids. That's what we had gauged from looking at their albums, but it was nice to hear her say that. It was exactly what we wanted and was a great selling point for us. Whatever your preference, be sure to find someone who specializes in that type of photo. If you want portraits, don't book someone who only shoots candids, and vice versa.

2. Compare, compare, compare.

There's a good chance there are multiple photographers in your area. And through expos, there's a good chance you will meet many of them. They will all have portfolios of their work available for you to review (and if they don't, run). Each photographer we encountered had hard copies of wedding albums available for review at the expo but also had slideshows posted online that we could view at our leisure.

We met Derick & Christy at the first expo we went to and I just absolutely fell in love with their photos. But I didn't book them right away. We went to tons of other expos and I met many other photographers. Each time I found someone new, I opened up Derick & Christy's website and queued a slideshow. I then went to the new photographer's site and queued up a slideshow. I went back and forth between the two, checking out photos. And every single time, Derick & Christy won the battle.

My at home slideshow battles were also a great way for me to familiarize myself with Derick & Christy's work. I really got to know their style and really appreciate it. These battles made me get a feel for what our wedding album would look like and made me feel really comfortable that we would be getting what we paid for. Because that's the thing. You pay for your photographer in full but you don't see your photos for weeks. And you don't get a second shot (no pun intended). You can't return your photographer if you don't like your photos. You can't restage your wedding. You have one chance to capture the moments you want in the way you want them. Be sure you know what you are getting before you book.

3. Hire someone who will give you the rights to your photos.

When you hire a photographer, you obviously have to pay them. That's how these things go. But, with a photographer who retains the rights to your photos, you will have to pay them from now until the end of time (well, until you stop ordering wedding photos, anyway). If a photographer retains the rights to your photos, you must go through him or her every single time you (or someone else) want to order a photo. Thinking about an album with 100 photos? You have to purchase those photos through the photographer, at whatever price he or she sets. Grandma wants a photo of you in the veil? Pay the photographer. Want a canvas print to hang on the wall? Pay the photographer. Want to scan a photo to print a copy for mom? That's actually a violation of copyright law.

The upfront cost of a photographer who retains the rights to your photos may be lower than one that releases the photos to you, but in the long run, that will end up costing you a ton of money.

If you fall in love with a photographer that keeps the rights to your photos, ask if you can work out a deal where you can buy the rights. A photographer should be flexible and work with you and if they won't, my advice is to find someone new.

4a. Remember, you get what you pay for.

There's a good chance your photographer will be the second biggest expense of your wedding, trumped only by the venue. And that's a scary thought because it is a lot of money. If I'm being completely honest, our photographers cost us more than our six-piece band.

And they were worth every penny.

Our photographers (yes, plural: Derick & Christy Photography is, you guessed it, both Derick & Christy shooting) were with us for twelve hours. They took a couple thousand photos, then spent I don't even know how many hours editing over 1,300 for us. Plus our package includes a photobook, which means we'll have a nice wedding album that is professionally put together (and that will mean they'll spend more time with our shots).

We could have picked a cheaper package where they were with us for less hours, but it wasn't an option for me. We were starting to get ready at 11, our ceremony was at 2, our reception was at 6, and it ended at 11. I wanted every shot from getting ready until getting ready to leave.

4b. And be sure to get what you pay for.

If you hire a photographer with the understanding that you're getting that photographer, you don't want someone else to show up at your door on your wedding day saying, “Hi. I work with XYZ Photography. I'm here to shoot your wedding.” That's not okay.

Larger photography businesses will employ more than one photographer. And that's great for them. But you don't want to sit down for a consultation with one photographer, go over your plan for the day, pay a deposit, and then find out that you will get any photographer who is available, regardless of who you originally spoke with.

If you see an album of someone you like, make sure you get it in writing that you will have that person shoot your wedding. If not, you could end up with someone who has a completely different style and you'll be really disappointed.

5. Make your photographer your top priority.

Your flowers will die. You'll never wear your dress again. A year later, you won't have the food. Two years later, you won't have any cake. But you will have photos of your flowers, your dress, your food, and your cake. Your pictures are basically the only tangible thing you will actually have post-wedding. So don't skimp on your photography. It absolutely needs to be a bride's top priority. You can skip programs at the ceremony to save yourself some money. You can nix a shuttle from the hotel to the reception. You can decide against an action station. But you absolutely should not skimp on photography.

As soon as we booked the venue and had a wedding date, I called Derick & Christy to set up a meeting. We booked them on the spot. There was absolutely no way we were getting married and not having them as our photographers. I was that in love with their photos. I didn't have a clue where we were getting our cake; I had no idea what food we were serving; my dress was not even on my radar yet. But we had our photographers set.

Truth be told, I'm pretty awful at doing anything right away. I'll always get things done (and done on time), but there's a good chance they won't be done immediately. If you invite me to a party, there's a good chance I will RSVP on the last possible day. If I have to go out early in the morning, I will sleep until the last possible minute and be ready with no time to spare. But I knew that if I wanted Derick & Christy, I couldn't wait. I had to book them right away because I would be devastated if I slept on it and they were booked our day. So I did and it worked out better than I could have imagined.

BRIDAL BABBLE: What other tips would you give brides who are booking photographers?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Review: Solemates Wedding Rescue Kit

When we were at our wedding, my dad introduced me to the banquet manager. “Anything you need,” the manager George began, “I got you.”

“Any sort of food, just ask you?” I asked.

“Anything at all,” he replied.

Great, I thought. It would be awesome to have a go to guy who could get me anything, sorta like Red from Shawshank Redemption.

“Can you get me some crab cakes?” I asked him. “I can't make it into the cocktail hour room.” I was being pulled in six different directions and none of them were towards the food. Not too long later, George approached me with a plate of beautiful crab cakes.

A little while later, I was sitting at our table and my head started killing me. It was four days since I had a full meal and I had been running all day. The crab cakes looked wonderful, but I was only able to take a bite or two.

I found George.

“Hey,” I said. “Do you have any aspirin.”

“Sorry. We can't give that out,” he said.

So much for anything at all.

I went up to my family's table to ask for aspirin. Luckily, my brother's fiance had some Advil in her purse. It was the best Advil I had ever had.

And then it got me thinking about bridal emergency kits. They're basically a pouch filled with everything a bride may need in case of any emergency. If I had one, I would have had an aspirin on hand.

Solemates actually makes a wedding rescue kit that has anything a bride could need. Inside is a pair of Solemates (a piece of plastic that you affix to your heel to prevent you from sinking into the grass and prevents damage to your heel – something I definitely could have used on my wedding day), Advil, antacid, Blistex, bobby pins, safety pins, bandage, ear plugs, sewing kit, elastic hair band, nail file, comb, tissues, Shout wipe, Tampax tampon, breath mint, and floss.

Talk about being prepared.

All the items come in a clear zipped pouch, which is brilliant. You're actually able to see everything that's inside so you can just grab the tampon if you need it. You don't have to waste valuable time searching and hunting for something in a dark bag.

Is a bride going to need all these items on her wedding day? No. But will she need at least one of them? Yes. And won't it be nice to have it on hand for her, just in case?

I had heard about bridal emergency kits before and I actually thought about putting one together for myself, but I decided not to. It just was something that was on my to do list once upon a time and got crossed off because you can't have or do everything. This kit from Solemates is actually the first time I've seen one in real life and it has, instantly, become my new favorite gift for brides. It's the bridal shower gift that gets oohs and ahhs from the other guests, ladies who silently comment on how brilliantly useful your gift was.

And it's a lot more useful than that extra set of measuring cups Aunt Edna threw in the wishing well.

BRIDAL BABBLE: What item do you think is most helpful to brides?

A Bride On A Budget received this item for review. All thoughts and opinions belong to A Bride On A Budget.
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