Aisle Decor

The wedding ceremony will be the most memorable part of the day. One of the first things that your guests will notice when they arrive at your wedding is the aisle decor at the ceremony. The aisle decor sets the look and feel of your wedding dramatically. Whether you're planning a classical church ceremony, a casual beach ceremony, or a romantic garden wedding; the aisle decor really can set the stage for the rest of your event.

Classic or romantic ceremony decor for your aisle could include floral pomanders, rose petals, candles or luminaries, and/or potted plants. Rose petals could line your aisle, or if you're looking for something altered, ask your florist to arrange the rose petals in a pattern or design down the aisle. Using luminaries can light the way down the aisle, adding an intimate feel to your ceremony. Even tall trees overarching the the aisle way could incorporate a dramatic entrance.
Jennifer and Eddy's Wedding
Photo courtesy of Justin & Mary Photography
Mary Lee and Lenny's Wedding
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Childress Photography
Vintage weddings in venues such as mansions, a rose garden or even an old barnyard, aisle decor is almost inevitable. Glass mason jars are a great option for this instance. In the jars, you can place a flameless candle or a small cluster of flowers. The jars can easily be hung by ribbon off the side of the chairs lining the aisle or could be placed on the ground lining the aisle. Very cute, yet very simple! To add more height to your ceremony space, you can hang lanterns on sheperd's hooks. Incorporate a candle and simply decorate with flowers and ribbon to complete the look. 
Katie and Brady's Wedding
Photo courtesy of Sarah DiCicco Photography
Kaylan and Dan's Wedding
Photo courtesy of Lloydlee Heite
Modern ceremonies can typically display the more out-of-the-box concepts, such as garlands made from paper, fabric or yarn pom-poms, paper pinwheels, wreaths, pew bows and much more. Simple, yet beautiful, wreaths represent the circle of unity that you are celebrating with your marriage vows. Consider hanging wreaths by ribbon of your chosen color over the end of the pew. Ribbons also leave room for creativity; try something different and attach many long strands of think, colorful ribbon off the back of your ceremony chairs. Pinwheels can also be used and are whimsical, happy touches. Instead of flowers, use pinwheels to decorate a lawn aisle. Pinwheels can be made out of interesting paper or certain colors, or get really creative and use maps of where your honeymoon will be taking place!
Beth and Mike's Wedding
Photo courtesy of Misty Dawn Photography
Liz and Mike's Wedding
Photo courtesy of Kerry Harrison
An aisle runner is perfect for either an indoor or outdoor wedding ceremony. These runners add interest to your wedding photographs and protect the bride's dress. Wedding aisle runners in a variety of colors and you can get them customized to add a personal touch.
Chrissy and Joe's Wedding
Photo courtesy of Laura Eaton Photography
Melissa and Carl's Wedding
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Childress Photography

A Recent Thank You Note

We received another fantastic Thank You email last week! This time, our stationery stole the show :)

"Hi TJ-
I can't thank you enough for the absolutely beautiful programs, signs, seating chart and napkins you made for our wedding. Every single piece was absolutely perfect! Our guests were raving about everything, especially the seating chart and programs. One of my friends told me she has never seen a more gorgeous program at a wedding!

I was so impressed with how responsive you were throughout this entire process and your ability to create a suite of pieces that was exactly what I was looking for! I knew the hardest part of the wedding planning process was going to be the small details that tied it all together, and because of your products I was able to do that easily.

I will (and already have!) recommend you to anyone and everyone who will listen! Please don't hesitate to contact me if I can ever serve as a reference or write a testimonial. I will sing your praises anytime!

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for helping to make our wedding day so very memorable. 

Some Advice From a Few of Our Former Brides

Planning a wedding can be an overwhelming process as there are a lot of things to book, order and consider. Hiring a planner or day of coordinator can definitely ease some of the stress, but having a solid plan and detailed budget can really help.

Photo courtesy of Candid Moments Photography
But in some cases, even with a planner and a well planned out day, there may be things you wished you had done or hadn't done. I know when it came to my wedding, I was just so happy to be marrying my now husband that I didn't care about a lot of the details. Looking back, I wished I had. It was a beautiful wedding, but it wasn't necessarily a reflection of us.

We went back and talked to a few of our past brides and asked them if there was anything they wished they had done differently; any professionals they wished they had hired or not hired; what their favorite moments were, etc. Maybe hearing about their experiences can help you when it comes to planning and preparing for your wedding.
Photo courtesy of Ryan Estes Photography
 There were a few common themes that came from each conversation; be organized, and no matter how organized you are, hiring a professional is a good idea; wedding planning can be stressful, try not to let the little things that wouldn't ordinarily bother you, get to you; hire a solid group of professionals, and it is helpful if they've worked together before; and splurge on the things that are important to you, whether that's the food, the music, the photography, etc.
Photo courtesy of 217 Photography
"Okay, so looking back on my wedding, I feel like the only thing I would have done differently is to organize everything I needed the week before the wedding, instead of last minute," bride Casey said. "I was living in New York, and we were having the wedding in Philadelphia. My entire family is from Delaware, so I didn't have anyone in the area that could help organize and bring things down. The night before I came down to the area I was sort of scrambling...and I ended up getting locked out of my house, and later breaking my finger, hahaha. The wedding was perfect, it would have just been nice to relax the few days leading up to it!"

Wedding planning can be hectic, and there are a number of things need to not be done the week of the wedding. If you're out of the area, or don't have family around to help you, considering hiring a professional, not just to keep things in line on the day of the wedding, but to help you leading up to it as well.
Photo courtesy of Barton Paul Photography
I asked bride Kara about the professionals she hired and if there were anything she would have changed. She said "I'm so, so, so, glad I hired the vendors I did because I was not disappointed one second on the day of the wedding. People who know me thought I was crazy for hiring a wedding planner since I organize for a living but that has it be one of the smartest things I did. I am not just saying that for this...having the Proud to Plan team present brought me so much peace and comfort. I felt like I had an entourage that day and everyone was there to make sure the wedding went perfect. Would not have been the same without everyone."

Bride Devon reiterated how important it is to hire solid professionals, get some help with the planning details, and it doesn't hurt if your professionals have worked together before. "I would definitely attribute much of the weddings success to working with Erin and Proud to Plan. Knowing she was there to look out for all the details I had planned and make sure everything went smoothly, was such a mental relief for me; not just the day of, but all of the planning leading up to it. I didn't have to check on things, I could just enjoy the day."

"I also loved how so many of my vendors had worked together in the past, and had great relationships with each other," Devon said. "My photographer and videographer often work together, same for the florist and caterer, coordinator and DJ. It definitely helped me to ask my vendors for advice, and look at the folks they recommended. If your vendors are able to work well together, it's going to make things run smoother."
Photo courtesy of Leave It To Me Photography
These brides had amazing days, with a lot of perfect moments, from being announced as husband and wife for the first time, to seeing their reception space, to their first dance, to their new husband serenading them. But no matter how much you plan and prepare, things can still go wrong.

There were a few things Devon said she would have done differently, "my flowers definitely did not turn out as I had planned. While they were still beautiful, they did not match the mental picture I had been creating for myself all along. If I could do it over again, I would have met with my florist again, in person, and brought photos of what I was looking for, and left those photos with her. While I had originally met with my florist when we were first booking everything, that meeting was about a year before our wedding date. I think within that time, the original communication we had was lost."
Photo courtesy of Studio K Photography
This is a great point. When talking to any of your professionals, be sure to be clear on what it is you want and bringing pictures is never a bad idea. That way there is little room for interpretation or error.

No one wants to think of things going wrong on their wedding day, but remember, regardless of these little issues, these were very happy brides. They had amazing days and married the men they love. And at the end of the day, that's what matters.


Fun Favors Your Guests Will Love

Wedding favors! There are many directions couples can choose to go in to find the perfect favor that your guests will love. Wedding favors that are unique and personalized always make it home with guests. The do-it-yourself get noticed and since it's your wedding, do it the way you want.

What's the best way to make sure your wedding favors don't end up just collecting dust on someone's shelf? Make them edible! Cookie buffets are a huge hit with guests. The cookies can be homemade with certain flavors that can basically use the same ingredients. For example, chocolate chip (with and without nuts), peanut butter with Reese's Peanut Butter cup centers, oatmeal with white chocolate and craisins, and Snickerdoodles can all use similar ingredients making this idea inexpensive. Candy buffets are also a huge hit with all guests, not just children! We see more adults coming back for seconds than we do of children. You can choose certain colored candies to work with your color scheme, or just pick an assortment of the candy of your choice.
Kristen & Steve's colorful candy buffet
Photo courtesy of Mike Landis Photographer
Bags to package the cookies or candy can range from clear cellophane bags to chinese food take-out boxes; your options are creatively endless. If you choose to embellish your bags or boxes for guests, ribbons to labels to handmade tags can all be another element where your options are endless! These buffets are often put out the the end of the reception to work as the perfect wedding favor that guests will be talking about for years. 
Traci and Mik's candy buffet
Photo courtesy of Sharyn Frenkel Photography
Did you ever think that jelly or jam would be a perfect favor? Mini jars of jam can add a touch more of sweetness and an extra helping of love. Jams are great for treats at the reception, an after-wedding brunch, or out-of-town guests. Many flavors are available such as Raspberry Peach Champagne or Strawberry Peach Jam. These jars can also be embellished with phrases such as, "sweet beginnings" or "spread the love," while you can also add your wedding date, personalizing this favor even more. They can act as a cute little token to give guests that can really enjoy. 
As the practical wine stopper can act as a nice favor for any celebration, nothing makes a wedding day more magical than having personal touches. Wedding wine labels are offered for personalization on your favorite bottle of wine. On these labels, your new monogram or custom artwork for a completely personal wine label that no one-other than you guests- will have! 
Add caption
The two of your are Lucky in Love so why not spread the luck with a $1 lottery ticket! Decorate the ticket with personalized lottery ticket holders that can be made just for your special day! These lottery ticket holders are a one of a kind wedding favor for your guests. Don't forget to include a penny of your wedding year for scratching off! You can decorate the holders with colors from your color scheme, your monogram, or clever sayings such as "Lucky in Love" or "Hope Our Luck Rubs Off On You!"
Favors are a little symbol of you as a couple that you can present to your guests. Use your imagination and a dash of creativity and you'll find ways to turn the ever-present wedding favor into a charming, highly personalized statement that says a lot about you and your new husband (or wife)!


Teaser Tuesday

Jessica and Robert were married this weekend and it was such a wonderful wedding! The weather was perfect and working with a couple that is so in love, made our job easy! They were married in "The Rooftop" at The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College. Guest were able to look up to see the beautiful ceremony performed by Eric from Water Lily Weddings. Jess and Bob strung pictures of themselves growing up on mini clothes pins, which made a perfect conversation piece for guests as the place cards were placed on the table below. One bottle of wine was placed on each table for guests to sign and wish the newlyweds a happy anniversary for that numbered year. The cake that The Restaurant School made was absolutely stunning and fit in perfectly with their color scheme. 

Booking a Hotel Room Block

One thing that you may consider doing for your wedding is reserving a block of hotel rooms for your guests. This is a nice idea for those traveling from out-of-town or those who do not know the area. 

A few benefits of reserving a block of hotel rooms are guests may receive a discounted room rate and it also helps guarantee a room is available. All the guests will be in one location, making it easier for transportation and socializing. Another benefit is that some hotels offer incentives to the engaged couple for example, if you book all of your reserved guest rooms, you may receive a free hotel night or be upgraded to a suite. 

The first thing you want to do is locate a few hotels close to your reception venue. Ask your venue if they work with or recommend a particular hotel. Your wedding planner can also assist with recommending hotels. It's nice to offer your guests hotel options in two different price ranges, if it is possible. 

When deciding on hotels here are a few questions to ask:
-Does the hotel provide a shuttle service to the reception venue? Keep in mind some hotels can not guarantee the shuttle for your group alone. However, this service is a nice option for guests who are running late or want to leave early. If the hotel is located near an airport, find out if the shuttle runs to and from the airport. This way hotel guests do not have to worry about transportation during their stay. 
-What type of rooms does the hotel offer (King, Queen, Double, Suites)?
-Is the hotel planning on doing any major construction during the time your guests will be staying at the hotel? You don't want a major renovation to be going on during their stay. 
-Does the hotel off a complimentary breakfast with the hotel stay? If you are interested in holding a brunch the day after the wedding, find out if they have any banquet space available. 
-Does the hotel have a bar or area for an after-party at the end of the night? Ask what time the area closes. 
-Will the hotel off any incentives to you (engaged couple) for booking a certain amount of rooms?
-Is there a fee for distributing out-of-town bags?

Once you have decided on a hotel, contact the sales department and let them know you are interested in booking a block of rooms for your wedding. You will need to have an estimated number of rooms that will be needed. Think about any out-of-town guests, bridal party, you and your fiance, any family members that may stay at the hotel.

You want to make sure you block a variety of rooms (King, Queen, Double, Suites), after you negotiate a room rate. Make sure to get a room rate for each variety of rooms. If you need more than 10 rooms, you will most likely need a contract. Read the contract carefully. Sometimes room contracts contain an attrition clause. An attrition clause means that you need to fill a certain amount of rooms or you will be charged for the rooms you do not fill. You do not want to get stuck paying for any un-used hotel rooms. You are simply blocking the rooms for your guests to reserve and pay for. If your contract has an attrition clause, make sure it includes a date that allows you to release any extra rooms without penalties. 

Once the contract is signed, be sure to keep in contact with the sales representative. You want to keep track of your rooming list and any deadlines. Also, ask the hotel to contact you if the room block is filled. 

When all the details are finalized, be sure to include the hotel information on a separate card with your invitations so guests can begin booking their hotel room. Make sure to include hotel address and telephone number, room rate, a reservation code or group code for your hotel block, cut-off date for room rate. 

Just to be sure to remember any cut-off dates and you can cross "booking a room block" off your list!


Ideas for Save the Dates

Typically sent six to nine months before the wedding, Save-the-Dates provide basic information to guests so that they can mark their calendars and make plans to celebrate with you. Fun and usually less formal than invitations, they allow for endless creativity and follow very few rules. Save-the-Dates are a great way to make a first impression and create a sense of excitement for your big day. 

Here are some unique ideas that are bound to get a great reaction from your guests. 

Looking for a mix of traditional and whimsical? String together cut-outs of your wedding date with ribbon and let them spill out of a tiny envelope affixed to a postcard or photo. This tutorial will help you add a little extra flair to an otherwise simple Save-the-Date.
Let guests take note of your wedding date with these clever personalized pencils. Have them engraved with different phrases and bundle them together to create the perfect package.
Or, skip the pencils and go straight to the paper. These block notepads are an adorable and useful reminder for guests.
Set the tone for your wedding day from the start by incorporating an element of your decor into the Save-the-Date design. Have your heart set on a carnival theme? Print your wedding date on colorful bunting. Love the homespun look of a rustic backyard wedding? This clothespin line is the perfect choice. 
Source for image on left; Source for image on right
Get festive with balloons. Have them printed with your wedding date and location and instruct guests to inflate them for a better look at the details. 
Love to read? Why not send your guests a Save-the-Date bookmark? They'll get excited for your wedding every time they curl up with a good book.  
Let your guests get nostalgic with Save-the-Dates inspired by classic games and toys. This secret message decoder is playful and fun while this spooky Ouija board is the perfect touch for a Halloween wedding. 
Source for image on left; Source for image on right
Help the excitement for a spring wedding grow with personalized seed packets. Guests can plant them and watch them bloom as they await your celebration. 
Show some love for the site of your "I Do's." Whether you're getting married in your home town or on the other side of the country, guests will love these wooden state silhouettes. 
Help guests who are travelling to your wedding prepare for their journey with luggage tags. They can be simple paper tags or reusable ones they can bring along for future trips. 
Keep your guests on schedule with mini calendars that highlight your wedding date. 
Opt for fabric over paper with a variety of screen printed items. Handkerchiefs and kitchen towels designed with your wedding date are bound to get a lot of use. 
Source for image on left; Source for image on right 
Satisfy your guests' sweet tooth and keep them informed with edible Save-the-Dates like these calendar cookies. Or spice things up with personalized bottles of hot sauce. 
Source for image on left; Source for image on right 
Start the party early with these incredible confetti poppers. Follow these instructions and your Save-the-Dates will literally burst at the seams with information and fun. 
Whether you make it or buy it, choose a design that really reflects your personality and your wedding day. With a little bit of imagination you'll find a Save-the-Date that will have your guests anxiously counting down the days till you say "I Do."


Featured on Ruffled!

We're so excited to share with everyone that a styled shoot that we designed, is featured on Ruffled today! Ruffled is one of our favorite wedding inspiration blogs. If you've never checked them out before, head on over to see our styled shoot and you'll get lost in the rest of the beautiful weddings they have featured! Many thanks to the team that we worked with for this shoot: Lindsay Docherty Photography, Papertini, Anna Violet Artisan Confections, Cheekadee Makeup Artists, Laurita Winery and VanCleve Wedding Pavilion. This was such a labor of love for all of us and we are so honored to have it featured!! Click here to go directly to our feature.

Wedding Cakes

Unlike the saying goes, you really can have your cake and eat it too on your wedding day! Your wedding cake is one of the sweetest (literally) aspects of your wedding, so make sure you plan ahead and do your research so you can be happy with the results and your guests can have happy taste buds. Here are a few things to keep in mind when deciding on your wedding cake:

Flavors and Icing: Mix and Match
He loves chocolate, you love vanilla- not to worry, it's very common for different tiers of wedding cakes to be different flavors giving your guests an option. Pick at least one layer to be basic chocolate or vanilla, for those guests who may have simpler taste buds, but don't be afraid to choose another flavor out of the ordinary. For this time of year, spice cake or carrot cakes with cinnamon buttercream icings are very common, mousse cakes are common in the winter, and fruit filled cakes are common in the spring and summer. Fondant is slowly becoming a thing of the past as couples opt for the more homemade and natural flavor of buttercream icings. Make sure you also ask your bakery what their most common combinations are. 
Vicki and Brad's Wedding
Photo courtesy of Shooting Stars Photography
Tastings: Satisfy your taste buds
Warning- this may be the only thing your man might actually want to take part in, the cake tasting. Once you have done your research, contact your top one to three bakeries and set up tastings, if you do more than three, it might make your decision harder. Most cake tastings are around one hour so there is time to discuss flavors and you can often bring a total of three to four people- it never hurts to get a second, third or fourth opinion! Most bakeries suggest that couples order their wedding cake six months in advance, so don't be afraid to make contact early on.
Shante and Jason's Wedding
Photo courtesy of Sean Marshall Lin Photography
Size: Too much of a good thing is never enough
You can never have enough! But, here are some guidelines to help you decide how large of a cake you might need. It's best to speak with a professional baker first, but it's always good to go in having done your research. Don't be surprised about how many slices you can get out of one cake, traditional wedding slices are 2" x 1"- around the size of a deck of cards, which is smaller than the usual slice of birthday cake. 

Round Tiers
6"- 14
8"- 25
10"- 39
12"- 48
14"- 77
16"- 100
18"- 127

Square Tiers
6"- 18
8"- 32
10"- 50
12"- 72
14"- 98
18"- 162
Kirsten and Matt's Wedding
Photo courtesy of Misty Dawn Photography
Inspiration: Be inspired...
You obviously want your cake to reflect your wedding theme and decor, so grab a few samples and look up designs to show your wedding cake designer so they have a better feel of what you're looking for. Inspiration can be pulled from the bride's wedding gown, the groom's tie, centerpieces, bridal party flowers, your wedding invitations, monogram, whatever it may be. You'll be surprised to see what a great cake designer can do with just a little to work with. If you're having trouble thinking of something, look to the season to decide.
Erica and Gene's Wedding
Photo courtesy of Timeline Weddings
Design: Let your imagination run wild
Gone are the days of the columned wedding cakes with ivy going up the side, couples today are sticking with either the traditional three tiered cakes, going for a topsy turvy look of a lopsided cake for a fun twist, or bagging cakes all together and doing a dessert station instead. Whatever kind of cake it may be, the designs play a huge part of the overall look of the cake. Here are some design elements to consider and discuss with your cake designer. 
Groom's Cake: Just for him
A lot of brides are doing something a little extra for their new hubby. By surprising the groom with a groom's cake, themed specifically to his style and taste, you are sure to win some new wife bonus points- which you can of course redeem later. Typically, grooms cakes are usually darker and heavier looking than traditional wedding cakes, which are often white and light. The groom's cake should be completely opposite in flavor and design of the wedding cake, but should also be his favorite flavor and highlight some of his favorite past times- sports teams or hobbies for example. It's also most often served at the rehearsal dinner to keep it separate from the wedding cake the next day. Fun fact, the groom's cake began as a tradition in the South.  
Stacey and Justin's Wedding
Photo courtesy of Sofia Negron Photography
Top Tier: Save some for later
If you want to stick with tradition, save and freeze the top tier of your wedding cake to be enjoyed either on your first wedding anniversary or for the christening of your first born child. The tradition started in England- and back then many cakes were made from nuts and liquors- making them easily preserved. Today, keeping your cake tasting just as fresh may be a bit more of a challenge, especially since most couples are waiting a few years to have children. So typically, today's couples keep their cake frozen for a year and enjoy it during their first wedding anniversary. If you're trying to keep it for a year, make sure to wrap it in several layers of saran wrap and tin foil and even put it in a Tupperware container. If you get back from your honeymoon and are still dreaming about your wedding cake, don't hesitate to open it back up, after all, every day of your marriage is a celebration!
Kaylan and Dan's Wedding
Photo courtesy of Lloydlee Heite
Cake Stands: Tying it all together
Add a little something extra with a traditional, vintage, modern or unconventional cake stand. Your wedding cake designer may have stands you can use, but websites like Etsy have great cheap options that you can always reuse in your new home. Cake stands can also be used to divide up the different flavors or layers of cake, giving you a tall cake that will also be steady. The cake stand below can be found at Sarah's Stands
Melissa and Carl's Wedding
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Childress Photography
Trends: Keeping up with the Jones'
The 2011 wedding season is almost over, so chances are, if you're reading this blog for wedding tips, your big day is sometime in 2012. Get ahead of the curve and keep in mind these new 2012 cake trends with the overall theme of 2012 being chic and romantic. 
  • Flavors- Red velvet was the top cake flavor for 2011, but couples in 2012 will look to more unique flavors to surprise their guests, try pomegranate or fig filled cakes. Other unconventional flavors lately have been chocolate hazelnut, chocolate orange, lemon, peanut butter & jelly, almond, and banana!
  • Design- Up, up and away, cakes for 2012 are getting bigger and better- not to mention higher. Think big and tall when designing your cake for 2012!
  • Simplicity- 2011 was filled with very detailed cakes- lace, ruffles, designs from brides dresses, but in 2012, the details will take a back seat and the taste will step up to the plate, literally. Picture more white or ivory cakes with hand painted elegant designs and monograms. 
  • Flowers- Always a trend, flowers are a perfect addition to any cake design. In 2012, more uncommon flowers and color combinations will be seen- think pastels with a pop of color.
Nell and Scott's Wedding
Photo courtesy of John Shetron Photography
Price: Getting the most bang for your buck
Although I am only speaking in generalizations here, the average cost of a wedding cake for around 100 people is $500- though this cost varies depending on your design, flavor choice, and the cake designers notability. Lower end cakes can cost around $2 a slice, mid-range cakes around $5-6 per slice and high end around around $10 or more per slice. Also remember to include delivery charges, cake toppers, a cake cutting knife, and possibly a cake stand into this cost as well. If you're trying to save with your cake consider these tips:
  • Use the venues preferred baker, which will often include some sort of discount
  • If you don't plan on keeping your top tier, using it to feed guests instead
  • Get a close family member or friend to make the cake for  you
  • Have one layer of the cake be real and used for the cake cutting but the rest be synthetic- but make sure you of course have a sheet cake in the back
    Casey and Will's Wedding
    Photo courtesy of 217 Photography
If you're totally lost after all these cake lessons, take this quiz, from our good friend Martha to help you get a start. 

Also be sure to check out our blogs about Cake Toppers by Nicole and Alternatives to a Traditional Wedding Cake by Amanda for more ideas!