Many wedding receptions last the entire night. Younger guests and friends of the bride and groom love dancing right to the end. The slightly older guests won’t typically stay the entire time. On the flip side, you and your partner may not be night people. You don’t enjoy staying up super late and then having to change out of your gown, scrub layers of makeup off and take 1,000 bobby pins out of your hair. Trust me, it’s a process!
If you guys are a couple who loves to have a good time, the reception ending at midnight is nothing out of the ordinary. All you want to do is have fun, and you deserve that. After all, it’s your wedding day! You want all the time you can get to mingle with family and friends. Having a late ending reception also allows for more time between important events on the schedule.
If you are not a night owl, you might want to start your wedding day earlier because you want your reception to be done at a time you’re comfortable with. You still end up hitting all of the key elements to a wedding. The ceremony would be set at a time that would still allow for a ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner/lunch, and dancing. And the best part is your day wouldn’t be rushed and you can go at a pace you feel comfortable with.
Recently an intern joined my team and told me all about her future wedding. Neither her nor her boyfriend are night people. They don’t enjoy staying up late, they know that they will get grumpy and become bad hosts. By starting earlier in the day, they would have the chance to do everything that they want for their big day while still respecting their own wishes.
Not all couples want the same thing. Each wedding reception is just as unique as the couple planning it. Making your wedding unique is key. Just because your friend ended at midnight does not mean you need to do the same. Make sure to keep this in mind when planning your own wedding!
Living in the midwest, it is not everyday where I can go to a beach and create a luxury experience for two people in love. This past February, a luxury beach elopement is just what I was able to do! Joy Bijedic, Being Joy Photography, and I styled and planned this luxury elopement experience for Malwina and Shane. This happy couple was originally from the midwest and both relocated out to San Diego due to their jobs. Everything turned out beautifully and Joy and I could not be more proud of this experience. We had a rock star team of vendors that was able to come together and pull off a romantic dinner on the La Jolla Cove beach.
If you have learned anything about me, from following along in my social media accounts, is that I am absolutely OBSESSED with the classic childhood favorite: Bagel Bites! I have no idea why I love them so much, but I think they are a great quick snack, tasty dinner option or even in a pinch, really good for breakfast. Really, in my mind, there is no wrong time to eat a bagel bite. I could even conceive of hosting a dinner party strictly on Bagel Bites alone.
I recently had my good friend, Joy, from Being Joy Photography come over to my house to photograph the proper techniques to prepare this tasty treat. Follow along as I share with you my undeniable guilty pleasure!
So, nothing crazy to see here! Just a girl who loves her bagel bites and can not wait for them to come out of the oven! I am pretty basic, and like the plain cheese the best. I think the sausage and pepperoni simply do not do bagel bites any justice.
Here is how to make them extra amazing: 1. Cook in the oven at 425 degrees for about 13-15 minutes 2. Place them on parchment paper so the cheese can get crispy and easily peel off (also makes clean up a breeze! 3. Add extra cheese, like good gourmet cheddar, the more the better 4. Cook until nice and bubbly golden brown 5. Remove from oven 6. Let cool, (learned the hard way more often than not!) 7. Eat and enjoy 8. Repeat as often as necessary!
Every once in awhile, a love comes along that you know will stand the test of time. Kayla & Kyle have that love. This past Sunday, they celebrated their 1st Anniversary! I can not believe how time flies, when you are young, in love and having fun.
I met Kayla and Kyle and immediately fell in love with Kayla’s spunky personality. We had a lot in common and it felt like we had known each other for years. Kayla, 100% trusted and believed that I could turn her dream into reality which makes my job so much easier. What I love about Kyle is his passion and clear adoration for Kayla. He loves her SO MUCH! This wedding was filled with COLOR and lots of sunflowers! Kayla found these fun bridesmaid’s dresses at JcPenny of all places! I was obsessed! I have a feeling, the girls will certainly re use these dresses. Their wedding was filled with so much love, laughter and smiles. It was hard for them to contain their excitement. Outdoor ceremonies can be tricky in the spring, however, the day was perfect and they were able to get married along the Fox River in Elgin, Illinois.
Happy Anniversary Kayla & Kyle! Thank you for allowing Ashley Nicole Events Inc to be apart of your big day!
Often, the bride is the focus of the wedding. Wether it is the planning or the wedding day, all of the questions seem to go to the bride. What is the date? What are the colors? How many guests? Where is the venue? How did he propose? The list goes on and on. For the groom, he often gets overlooked and told to “just show up.” What terrible advice is that?!? “Just show up” tells him that his opinions and thoughts don’t really matter. “Just show up” says that he has no say in his most special day. In my mind, this is a terrible miscarriage of justice. The groom in my world is just as important if not more important in some cases. Without him asking a very important question, the bride might not betting married.
Perhaps the most important Groom I have ever had to deal with was my groom, Adrian! Being married to a wedding planner is not always easy. I work most weekends and evenings are spent meeting with clients. Having listened to me for years, Adrian has learned that floorpans can make or break a wedding and can accurately describe the difference between poly and lamour linens. He never ceases to amaze me! He even offers to help write blog posts! I certainly got very lucky! Adrian has agreed to give his perspective on the wedding planning process. Below are his responses.
What is it like being a groom trying to plan a wedding and what advice would you give to other grooms?
Lucky for me, I married a wedding planner, but I was her own worst nightmare! I was a groom Zila, OK maybe not a total Groom Zila But a very picky Groom. We had 12 months to get everything set and planned for the killer bash that we had wanted in our heads. Like I said, I married a wedding planner so the timeline of events and the coordination of people and companies came quite easy for us. We both wanted something spectacular. Our wedding was a blank slate and we had to start to create our vision.
I didn’t even know weddings had themes. We both agreed on the same colors right away which was good! Boom done! From there we had the food that had to be decided on and I know for the brides that this is important, but this is just as important for the guys. Food is very important for guys so don’t blow it off, go do the food tasting! Also, if you are at all like me you’ll want a late night snack. Just an idea but we did a bacon bar and fresh donuts made on site. They were a huge hit.
The bar was another important factor for our wedding. You have to make a statement and make your guests feel comfortable. We had a giant ice sculpture alcohol fountain, i’m guessing this was the statement piece. I was also very specific in not having beer bottles given to people but wanted the beer to be poured into glasses. It was about the look and the experience.
My suggestion get involved, this is your wedding too. One of the biggest time sucks and most difficult parts were the invitations and day of printing. It took us an entire weekend to get all of the invitations stuffed in the envelopes and mailed out. Don’t think this is a quick process, as this was probably the hardest thing about the whole wedding.
I was given one task to handle on my own. I was in charge of the transportation. Ashley did not care or want to be involved in that process, so she let me handle the entire thing. I had to organize the transportation for the entire wedding party from the hotel to the church and then on to the venue. It’s not as simple as just renting a bus, you have to plan that timeline pretty much to the minute because everything relies on this bus and getting you to the church and to the venue at specific times. We also stopped at a few locations for photos in between. It is quite the logistical chess match. On the topic of transportation, food deliveries is just as important. You are going to be busy all day so you’ll want to get some sort of food delivered to the bus. Depending on your timeline, stopping for lunch might not be an option, so you can plan on having sandwiches for the bus because you and your bridal party will be starving.
Here is my advice for the actual wedding day: While on the topic of food, consider having some bagels with juice and coffee delivered in the morning while you are getting ready. This is a very long day and you will not have time to stop anywhere. Having things come to you is always a better idea. It makes the day go much smoother.
Best piece of advice that I can give you is while your guests are eating their salad you and your bride eat the main course. That way when everybody is eating you can go table to table and say hi and thank them for coming. It is very important to not skip a meal on the wedding day. Before I got married, people would say you won’t remember much about the day. I did not think this was possible. It is the best day of your life. How can you not remember it? I thought they were lying, but no, it is so true! The day passes by in a flash and this is why a really good photographer and videographer are such an important investment. You will be shocked at how much you forget. You begin to slowly piece the day back together when your photos and video come back. Getting your footage can take a few months! Time seems to erase memories sooner than you think. I cannot harp enough and how important both of those things are.
Adrian will be making other guest blog posts in the months to come. He has more experience than most guys in the wedding planning world, mainly because he has to listen to me talk about weddings all.day.long! I want to make sure that guys know that they are not alone and that their opinions matter too! So often, I see them get pushed to the back and told to smile and make sure they show up on time. The guy is just as important as the girl. I want to make sure their voice and opinion (as crazy as it might be) gets heard.
In just over one month, Ashley Nicole Events will be celebrating Leslie and Dave’s 1st Anniversary! I can not believe how time has flown by. It seems like yesterday that we were wrapping up the final details and practicing the long walk down the aisle. It was such a pleasure working with this sweet couple. Leslie and Dave had double the reason to celebrate as they would soon be welcoming their first son! Their adorable little boy is also the first ANE baby! During one of our planning sessions, Dave came to me and told me that he really wanted to hire a planner to take the stress off Leslie. They were both so busy with their jobs and with the joyous blessing of a baby on the way he wanted to do as much as possible to make the process easy and enjoyable for Leslie. It was so sweet to see him jumping into the protective father role, right from the very beginning. Dave and Leslie were surrounded by friends and family on the first of many joyous days together as husband and wife.
We at Ashley Nicole Events wish Dave, Leslie and baby Jack a very happy first anniversary and many, many more to come!
Vendor Spotlight: Planning: Ashley Nicole Events Ceremony Venue: St. Michael’s Catholic Church, Wheaton Reception Venue: The Haight, Elgin Hotel: Courtyard Marriott, West Dundee Florist: Laura’s Flowers Photographer: Crane’s Photography DJ: Quinn Bayola Hair: Christina Sopata Makeup: Erin Paul Cake: Michelle Siorek Catering: My Chef Rentals: Windy City Limo: Top Fleet Inc.
Stephanie was interning at the Wide World of Sports complex in Disney World and Alex was working for a marketing company on special assignment. One day at work, Stephanie was scheduled to work security… Don’t get me wrong, Stephanie is a strong girl, but not very intimidating! Sometimes, the universe conspires to put you in direct path with your future spouse. In this case, it put Stephanie on a direct collision course with her future husband, Alex! Stephanie, having been originally from California moved to Florida for the Walt Disney internship and Alex was currently living and working in Florida. After Stephanie finished school and Alex applied for a new position, he followed her and his dreams across country as they made a new home in Sunny San Diego.
Joy from Being Joy Photography captured their love as we visited some of the most iconic locations in San Diego on an unseasonably cold and windy day. Stephanie proved to be a complete bombshell in the custom Alyssa Kristin bridal gown and her flowers were provided by Wyld Blooms. Stephanie’s hair and makeup was provided by Flora Hair and Makeup. Stephanie and Alex, you both were such troopers braving the cold and wind! You deserve a lifetime of love and happiness and I wish you nothing but the best!
Weddings can be expensive, I get it. When you start reaching out to vendors and you say, “Hi, I am getting married let’s chat about how you can create my dream wedding!” you are so optimistic and excited you spend your time blissfully chatting about flowers, lighting, linens and the best photo package possible. Everything is perfect until you get their proposal and all you see are the $$$. Ensue mild panic attack.
One solution you might think of is to reach out to a friend who really likes to bake cakes or another friend who just picked up photography as a hobby. While these friends might offer to provide you with your dream wedding at a fraction of the cost or even free all together…please, for the love of all that is holy, carefully consider your options. There are plenty of ways to thoughtfully and methodically save on extra expenses. Taking a chance on an amature is not one of them. While all vendors start somewhere, there is a huge difference between running a profitable business and doing something a hobby. Below are photos of how much of a difference a professional vs amature wedding can turn out.
Let me say this again, all vendors start out somewhere. Not all new vendors are bad. Not all experienced vendors are fantastic. While I would always recommend hiring a professional to provide a service on your wedding, there are ways to cut costs on other aspects of your big day. While weddings are expensive, your sanity and the stress of wondering how something will turn out will always trump the extra few dollars. It is ALWAYS better to be safe than sorry…
Having friends who want to help contribute to your wedding is fantastic. Allow them to bake a cake for your bridal shower or have them take photos at the bachelorette party. Please, allow your friends to be guests on your big day and take a boat load of stress off your shoulders. You are hiring professionals because they will know how to handle any situation. Amateurs or hobbyists are simply not worth the nominal savings. Trust me. You and your guests will thank me for it.
If you are recently engaged, congratulations! Wedding planning is a ton of fun. I love it, (clearly) and cherish every wedding I get to be apart of. One of the really fun parts about getting engaged is having what I call the Glam Squad. Typically, this is the one (major) time in your life when you get to have professionals working with you for basically everything. I like to think of a bride as a mini celebrity leading up to her wedding. Think about it: hairstylists, manicurists, makeup artists, personal trainers, dentists (gotta have those pearly whites) stylists and estheticians all working to transform you into the best version of yourself. Don’t get me wrong, you on a drizzly Tuesday is fantastic too, but when you are all dolled up…you carry yourself differently. Trust me, my hubby says he prefers me in a hoodie and sweatpants, but he certainly doesn’t complain when I come home with professional hair and makeup and a killer dress. (Maybe he *would* complain if he knew the price tag, but I digress). 😉
Why am I rambling on and on about being a mini celebrity? Two words, Engagement Photos. Engagement photos allow A. a bride to get a test run with her hair and makeup artist B. a test run with the photographer C. one on one quality time with your sweetie and D. great looking, professional images for your save the dates.
TEST RUN HAIR AND MAKEUP
In my opinion, it is important to meet with your professional hair and makeup artist prior to your wedding. Most, if not all, HUMA provide a trial as part of your wedding day package. Some might have this service built in to the over all price, some might charge a little more for the trial. While some brides get frustrated with having to pay additional for a trial, that makeup artist is using product on you that he/she can never get back. It is not like they can scrape off the foundation and re bottle it for the next bride. Even places like Sephora require a minimum purchase for makeovers. In most cases, you will do a trial with the same person who will actually be doing your hair and makeup on the wedding day. Sometimes, this is not the case. Ask about company policy when it comes to scheduling your HMUA. That person will get to know the texture of your hair, the quality of your skin and can make recommendations based on what they see. They can chat with you about your style, how much makeup you normally wear, etc. Because these are just the engagement photos, you could do a similar style of hair and makeup or even a more natural look to get the feel/style of the artist. Leave the big transformation for the actual wedding day.
When I got my hair and makeup trial, I went after work and when it was done, I went home, showered and went to bed. I knew this going in, but I desperately wanted to work with this particular Chicago based company. If they told me to show up at 5:00 AM on a Sunday to do my trial, I would have. When you find your dream team, you listen to them. Typically, trying to schedule your engagement photos on a Saturday and expecting your HMUA free on a Saturday is a slim shot. However, if you are flexible on days/times for your engagement photos (read more about that below) then perhaps the scheduling gods will work in your favor! If not, then you could see if an associate HMUA could do your trial/engagement makeup and perhaps relay information to the person doing your makeup on the wedding day. Early communication and scheduling is key and all HMUA companies run differently. Make sure you ask these questions in advance and never assume.
TIME TO BOND WITH YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER
If you are planning your engagement photography, it is most often because, you have hired a photographer and this session is included in your wedding package. “Engagement Sessions” can last anywhere from 1-2 hours and can include 1-3+ outfit changes with multiple locations. It sounds like a long time to be the center of attention, but trust me, that time flies by. If you have selected a boutique photographer (meaning they are the owner and main photographer) you were drawn to them as a person and for their photography style. Having this time to get to know each other and get all of the potentially awkwardness out of the way will make for a much smoother, less stressed and more enjoyable wedding day. Having a stranger “be all up in your business” literally touching you and positioning your face, arms and body and watching you get dressed can be quite intimidating. A good photographer will make you feel comfortable, probably make you laugh and work to put you and your fiance at ease. When the three of you spend time at an engagement session, you get to know more about each other and when they show up on the day of the wedding, it’s as if a friend is walking through the door, not a paid vendor. If you have opted to go with a “big box” photography company, meaning, you select from a portfolio of photographers and do not meet the person until either your engagement session or wedding day, ask if you will be guaranteed the same photographer for both days. If not, can you meet the photographer prior to the wedding to make sure you mesh well? Ask what happens if you do not like the person you have been assigned. Always ask, never assume.
QUALITY ONE ON ONE TIME WITH YOUR SWEETIE
You and your fiance have spent countless hours making tough decisions. Which vendors to hire, where to have the wedding, what your colors should be, on and on and on. By taking this time to get all dolled up and simply have fun with each other will come as a much needed respite. Do things on this “planned and highly photographed date” that speaks to you as a couple. Do you love to spend the weekend casually sipping on a perfectly brewed cup of coffee? Go to your favorite local coffee shop. Do you love spending time in the park playing fetch with your fur baby? Go do that! Do you simply adore biting into the cheesiest slice of pizza? Go to your local pizza parlor and order an extra large pie…you’ve got another person along on your date! Do something seasonal! If your photos are around the holidays, go to a Christmas tree farm and get cozy with each other while “shopping” for trees. Have a snowball fight and warm up with some hot cocoa! Don’t take engagement photos in a campground if you have never, in your life, went camping. Your friends and family simply won’t get it.
SAVE THE DATES
Once you have completed your engagement session, your photographer will tell you when and how to expect the images. You might get an online gallery, you might go to their studio and have a slideshow of your day together and then you pick your favorite images in person. Once you select the images, you can begin ordering save the dates. Shout your love from the rooftop and announce your wedding information with the photos from your engagement session!
THREE MORE PIECES OF ADVICE
Think of hiring a stylist to help you select the best outfits for your engagement photos. You want to find outfits that flatter your body type and coordinate. I have seen some very mismatched outfits and it can throw off the entire photo. A stylist can also help with selecting your bridal gown and all of the important events during your engagement (bachelorette party, bridal shower, engagement party, groom’s fashion, etc) Get your ring professionally cleaned prior to your engagement session. This will be your most photographed piece of jewelry and it needs to be looking its best! You want that bling to sparkle! Be flexible! If it starts raining on the day of your shoot, be flexible and either work with the change of plans (embrace it) or reschedule. Don’t let a kink in the gears ruin what should be a special day.
Finally, smile and enjoy this fun experience with your fiance! It should be a stress-free, fun activity that you both will remember for a lifetime.
Part of being a wedding planner is being connected. I “know a guy” that can help with whatever you are looking for. Do you need an authentic cuban cigar roller? I know a guy. Perhaps a master sommelier or someone to hang from the ceiling while pouring tequila shots? I know a guy…or girl. Really, I do! When it comes to wedding photography, I know Ashley Hamm. When I met Ashley, we immediately connected over having the best name on the planet! Hello, Ashley Squared! 🙂 Ashley has been the owner of Ashley Hamm Photography for ten years! Ashley was a blast to interview. Please get comfy, grab a cup of coffee and get to know my friend.
How did you get started in the wedding photography business?
Gosh, that’s a great question! I remember the first time I found a disposable camera in my parents’ junk drawer and went out to play with it in the woods. I was maybe 7 years old and I loved the clicking sound of the camera when I pressed the button and the way the light shone through the trees. At first, it was a hobby, just for friends and coworkers, but then it became something I just couldn’t live without.
What do you love about being a wedding photographer?
I love working with people capturing their favorite moments. The moment they say I do, the moment they hug their children and watch laughter spread across their face or the moment they hold hands and fall in love all over again. I get to see how people look at each other and love and embrace and cry and just be amazing.
Let’s be honest, what do you not love so much about wedding photography?
Honestly, it’s the laundry (from working with kids getting on the floor and getting dirty) and finding comfortable shoes. That’s it. Worst answer ever? Maybe. There is not much I don’t love about this profession.
You deal with couples on the most important day of their lives, what is something you wish all couples looking at photographers considered or asked?
Full weddings! Before you book, ask to see at least 3 full galleries of the most recent weddings from your photographer! From start to finish, consistency should be a key element when booking a photographer for your wedding day.
Where are some of your favorite engagement session locations?
Downtown Milwaukee, Starved Rock, and The South Shore Cultural Center!
What is your favorite wedding venue? Why?
Wandering Tree Estate, Salvage One and Emerson Creek.
Wedding days can be stressful and over in a flash. What do you wish people considered on the day of the wedding?
I would actually prefer it if they didn’t think about it at all. Be in the moment, live it up, smash the cake all over each other’s faces. Be present! I am there to document your day just as it is, so be there and enjoy!
Tell me one thing no one knows about you (but you are okay with the world knowing!)
I own 35 cameras (film and digital) and collect them from all over the world when I travel! I’m also allergic to kiwis 🙂
Thank you, Ashley, for joining me and allowing my corner of the internet to get to know more about you! If you are interested in meeting Ashley, or getting to know more about her, I recommend you reach out directly to her. You can find her corner of the internet by clicking Ashley Hamm Photography Tune in next week when I provide my top 5 Engagement Photo tips!