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Bride at Tiny Wedding

What is a Tiny Wedding? Find out about the latest wedding trend in Birmingham

What is a Tiny Wedding? Find out about the latest wedding trend in Birmingham

It might have been inevitable that the smaller living movement (read: tiny homes) would eventually make its way into the world of weddings. And, more specifically, into Birmingham weddings. Tiny Weddings Birmingham, the brainchild of veteran wedding planner Ann Marie Leveille (of Tres Beau Weddings), launched on Valentine’s Day 2017. Its Pinterest-worthy Instagram feed looks like a dreamy alternative to the traditional event, but what is a wedding day really like without the long lead-up and grand reception?

“Very cozy and comfortable,” says Morghen Sikes, Tiny Weddings Birmingham’s first bride. “It didn’t feel stressful at all. It was very easy.” She and husband Mac Sikes had a two-plus year engagement during which they tried to design their ideal event on a budget, but it never quite came together. When she heard about Tiny Weddings, she was happy to put the planning phase behind her. Instead of spending their wedding morning ironing out last-minute details, Morghen and Mac were able to relax with friends and later show up for a wedding that she says, “couldn’t have been more perfect.”

When Leveille envisioned Tiny Weddings, she had an audience in mind. She imagined it being the ideal setup for couples who were beginning second marriages and were looking for a more affordable experience. That was certainly the case for Barry and Melissa Smith, who wanted a small wedding featuring their combined brood of five children. They turned to Tiny Weddings after realizing what an early venue quote of roughly $5,000 would mean for the total cost of their modest-sized gathering. But Leveille says many of the Tiny Weddings couples have been twenty-somethings like Morghen and Mac who “just have other financial priorities” than a big wedding.

When Leveille envisioned Tiny Weddings, she had an audience in mind. She imagined it being the ideal setup for couples who were beginning second marriages and were looking for a more affordable experience. That was certainly the case for Barry and Melissa Smith, who wanted a small wedding featuring their combined brood of five children. They turned to Tiny Weddings after realizing what an early venue quote of roughly $5,000 would mean for the total cost of their modest-sized gathering. But Leveille says many of the Tiny Weddings couples have been twenty-somethings like Morghen and Mac who “just have other financial priorities” than a big wedding.

With the average budget for a Birmingham-area wedding between $35,000-$40,000, Leveille says “it’s become hard as a wedding planner to do anything for $20,000, even.” She thrives on the opportunity to design unique events, of course, but says that the price tag is “just mind-boggling sometimes.” A Tiny Wedding runs roughly one-tenth of the cost of a traditional wedding, with a base price point capped at $4,000. “There are plenty of people who don’t want to spend the money, or don’t have the money, but still want a meaningful wedding and experience,” Leveille says.

The way a Tiny Wedding works is Leveille sets predetermined dates, venues, and vendors, so all clients have to worry about is saying “I do.” With a tiny wedding, the day is short and simple. In fact, a Tiny Wedding timeline lasts, at a maximum, up to two hours. The call time for couples is only 15 minutes before their scheduled start, and guests can plan to arrive just before the ceremony. The public part of the day consists of a roughly 15-minute ceremony, a 35-45 minute “mini reception” with cake and champagne, and a getaway photo opportunity. A 30-minute, post-wedding portrait session for the new couple rounds out the experience. Taking all the important parts of a standard-size wedding, Leveille says she’s “distilled it down into the most meaningful parts and details.”

Budget was a factor for both the Smith and Sikes couples, but it wasn’t the only benefit they found in opting for a Tiny Wedding. They also talked about feeling liberated from the planning process. “There are limited choices,” Barry Smith says. “That was wonderful because it took a lot of the decision-making down a notch. We were able to just focus on the people involved and not so much the place settings and all the things.”

All Tiny Wedding ceremonies are officiated by Scott Leveille (Ann Marie’s husband). While Ann Marie takes care of the majority of the planning details for the weddings, the ceremony does require active participation and input from the couple. Mac Sikes describes the result as “a nice, personalized touch” based on Scott’s conversation with the couple. Morghen adds that the customized style allayed their “pretty religious” parents’ feelings about a non-church wedding. Melissa and Barry were able to include vows to each other’s kids and prayers offered by friends.

For Morghen and Mac, the constraints of a 20-person guest list helped them give the ceremony an added layer of meaning. “We wanted the people at our wedding to be people we could turn to for support. And there are people that we’re close to that aren’t necessarily those people, so those were people we wanted to be at the reception part,” Morghen says.

Even if Tiny Weddings Birmingham is, frankly, too tiny for your event, there may be lessons here for all weddings. Leveille suggests: “Just shift your mindset a little bit away from the pretty magazines and blogs and Pinterest that kind of go overboard with things, and then focus on what is actually really important to you as a couple.”

Money saved on their Tiny Wedding allowed foodie couple Morghen and Mac to host a (slightly) larger celebration dinner that evening, in the private event space at Cafe DuPont. Melissa and Barry funneled their savings into moments–pre-wedding styling, limousine rides, a nice dinner–that would make the day special for their entire newly-minted family.

How to Have a Small and Intimate Wedding

How to Have a Small Wedding

How to Have a Small  Wedding

When it comes wedding celebrations, many couples agree: size matters. Fewer people can mean a more personal celebration. There’s more time for the bride and groom to spend with their guests, the group really gets to know one another, and everyone contributes to the event in his or her own way. Small Weddings andcelebrations, it seems, have certain advantages.

Keep to a Smaller Budget

You might decide that a four-course dinner for 50 is better than cake and punch for 100. Some couples having fewer than 75 guests have cut their guest lists to the bare minimum in order to maximize their budgets. It becomes a choice between cutting corners in order to have 150 guests or cutting the list in half and having everything just the way you envision the day.

Treat Your Guests Well

A small wedding gives you the chance to really go all out. Guests can possibly stay at a luxurious inn or your rehearsal dinner can be more elaborate and take place in a wine cellar with a wine-pairing for each course. Keeping things small means that the extra details, like providing limousine service, loaded gift baskets and six-course feasts for your guests, are suddenly more accessible. Think boxes of chocolate instead of a single truffle, the best champagne rather than sparkling wines and luxurious arrangements of roses and rare orchids as far as the eye can see.

Pay Attention to the Details

When a couple is planning a small wedding, they may be more inclined not to hire a wedding consultant. But take it from us—smaller is not synonymous with simpler. When the wedding is small, every detail is noticed, so careful attention to detail is called for. There’s no hiding behind the crowd at a small celebration—snafus that might have gone unnoticed with 200 people milling around will be painfully obvious with 50 guests and under.

Make it Entertaining

This might be the best part of having a smaller wedding: With fewer people on the scene, it’s easy to get everyone into the act somehow. Depending on how small the event will be, you can have everyone read a line of a prayer or a special reading at the ceremony, have them stand and encircle you as you exchange your vows, seat them at one big table at the wedding reception, or have everyone attend the rehearsal dinner.

Limit the Guest List

Have you found yourself agonizing over the guest list thinking, who is so and so? Not wanting to deal with a sea of unfamiliar faces on their wedding day, some couples decide to limit their lists, agreeing that a small wedding can create a more intimate atmosphere.

Bonus: There are so many creative options for locations when you’re not trying to accommodate hundreds of guests. There are unique restaurants, rustic ranches, cozy cabins, posh private clubs, settings with exquisite views and gardens, natural or fancy.

Now the hard part: Your families may protest when you ask them to cut down portions of their lists to the lean-and-mean few who really matter. And, of course, you and your partner have to be prepared to do the same. This may mean having to explain to friends who expected to be there why they won’t receive an invitation. There’s no easy way to do this, except to be perfectly honest. Tell your friends that you’re keeping the event very small and limiting the list, but be prepared for the occasional hurt feelings.

Party On

This is an option for couples who find themselves guilt-ridden at the thought of cutting guests off their list. If an intimate ceremony is most important, you can create a separate, larger guest list for the reception—just inform your guests of the arrangements. If you want the whole event to be intimate, you might choose to have a large, casual party a month or so after your wedding. Of course, this means paying for another event, but it can be fun to have a bigger crowd gathered in a more relaxed setting—call it a housewarming if you have moved into a new home.

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Fl Wedding Chapel - balloons

19 Ways To Use Balloons to decorate your Wedding Venue

19 Ways To Use Balloons to decorate your Wedding Venue

When we were kids, balloons were a sign of a party—birthday bash, pep rally, school dance, you name it. So why, now that we’re adults, aren’t they a thing for weddings, a.k.a. the single greatest party of our life, right? Well, it seems a bunch of people are asking that same question, because we, just now (yes, in 2017!), started seeing balloons pop up everywhere in the party circuit: at the engagement shoot, the bridal shower, the wedding reception, and more. And they’re, of course, blowing up (ha ha) in the art scene too. If you’re curious as to what this trend is all about, check out Charles Pétillon’s installation of 100,000 white balloons in London’s Covent Garden (it’s magical!), Jihan Zencirli’s colorful designs all over Los Angeles, and even Sugar & Cloth’s desert wedding here on Brides.com.

Basically, all the kids are embracing balloons, and it’s time for modern brides to get on board. To help you out and translate this trend to your wedding decor, we put our pro Instagramming skills to good use and discovered that you have a ton of options. And we are not talking about a “balloons tied at the party entrance”-type deal. No, it turns out people are getting really creative; think covering a statement wall with mini pink balloons, tying foliage-wrapped ones to table centerpieces, and hanging them from the ceiling. (Seriously, how do you even do that?) Lucky for you, we’ve got all the ideas right here!

Make your portraits next-level by carrying a train of peach-colored balloons. (A gorgeous desert setting helps too.)

This rainbow of an installation is truly a work of art. Copy Geronimo Balloon’s signature clustered look and check decor off your to-do list.

Give your tables height by sprinkling oversize white balloons down the middle. If you want to hide the strings, use fishing line wrapped in foliage.

If you didn’t know already, garlands are majorly trending. Take yours to the next level by mixing mini balloons—feel free to combine muted and bright tones, as shown here—with eucalyptus, flowers, or foliage.

Add balloons to the getaway car. Done and done.

Go big or go home with a wall covered in balloons. To keep it from overwhelming guests (and taking away from your shining moment!), stick to a singular palette, like the pale-pink one here. But feel free to mix up the balloon sizes; it’ll look like you blew up each yourself (even if you didn’t).

Read the entire article at:  www.brides.com   

13 Valentine’s Day Wedding Ideas to Send Your Heart Aflutter

13 Valentine’s Day Wedding Ideas to Send Your Heart Aflutter

It’s hard not to get swept up in the romance of a Valentine’s Day wedding. And why would you even try? The lovers’ holiday is the perfect occasion to embrace your romantic side with a feminine lace dress and a crimson lip. Your guests can enjoy romantic cocktails and sweet treats. And when it comes to decor, think red roses and heart-shaped signage. Planning to get hitched in mid-February? Here, some Valentine’s Day wedding ideas that are sure to send your heart a flutter.

Set the mood (and color scheme) for your big day with sophisticated shades of deep burgundy and dusty rose.

Trade in traditional programs for a whimsical watercolor ombré design.

Give your big day a dose of drama with bold red bridesmaid dresses. Get the groomsmen in on the action with matching ties.

Opt for a Valentine’s Day-inspired bouquet, like this one of peonies, garden roses, anemones and green mist Queen Anne’s lace, created by The Flower Story Co.

Treat your guests to a cocktail hour full of love and libations. Your friends and family won’t be able to resist True Love’s Kiss or a Blushing Beauty.

Romance your guests with the decadent duo of strawberries and champagne. For a flirty touch, slice berries into hearts.

Skip plain white and give your guests a laugh with these whimsical dessert plates.

An intimate seating area is the perfect place for guests to enjoy cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. A mix of vintage velvet couches, upholstered chairs and gold accents makes for a regal and romantic vibe.

Looking for a sweet alternative to escort cards? Opt for a pink seating chart.

Spray roses, candles, blush-hued glass and ‘xo’ macarons create a sweet tablescape.

Boxes of bonbons ensure everyone goes home with a tasty takeaway to remember the extraordinary evening.

Make your walk down the aisle one to remember with a runway of ombré rose petals.

Don’t leave all the romantic florals for your tables and bouquets! Add edible flowers to simple wreath cookies for an Insta-worthy moment.

Read the full article at www.brides.com

Tips for a successful rehearsal dinner

Wedding Chapel – Rehearsal and Rehearsal Dinner

Old Church Chapel is available for your wedding rehearsal.  Even a smaller Florida Wedding Chapel service will benefit from a rehearsal of the Wedding Ceremony prior to the actual event.

Tips for a successful rehearsal dinner

A rehearsal dinner is a magical time for those who are coming together to start a new life together. Though there are many opportunities for individuals to find time to talk and to get to know each other, this particular evening is about the coming together of two families. In some cases, this will be the first time that both sides of the family meet. It will be an outstanding opportunity for each person in the wedding party to celebrate, too.

If you are planning a special occasion like this, be sure you’ve thought about all of the details.

Who Is Coming?

Generally, the rehearsal dinner is just that. It is a meal that follows the practice event the day or so before the wedding. After heading to the ceremony location and determining where everyone will stand and what everyone will do throughout the event, the group will then head over to a location for a meal. This means that those involved in the actual wedding should be in attendance including everyone who’s in the wedding party. From there, you can add others into the event as you see fit. For example, out of town guests, grandparents, and other special family members may be included in this special event.

What to Focus On

One of the biggest parts of the rehearsal dinner is the thanking of those in your wedding party for all of the hard work they have done for you. It is also an opportunity to talk about the future and to get to know each other’s lives. In other words, you do not want to find yourself spending most of the time in the kitchen slaving over a meal. Find a location where you can have the event catered (if you plan to have it in a home.) You can also visit a location where you can have a formal meal together.

If your event will be a large one, it can pay to have a special event set up aside from your wedding ceremony and reception for the rehearsal dinner. Sometimes, you can rent a smaller hall of other space for these needs. In some cases, the facility you are hosting your wedding reception at may have a wedding package that includes the catering services. Find out if these are available and if they can help you to meet all of your guests’ needs.

Take into consideration your special evening. While all of your focus may be on the wedding itself, don’t forget this beautiful evening together with your new family and with your friends. From formal to informal, your options are numerous. However, you also need to consider your goals, budget, and who will be in attendance when choosing a location for your rehearsal dinner. The right location can help ensure that you have a fabulous meal that everyone enjoys and that you don’t have to cook it for them.

Florida Wedding Chapel – Big Party Planning 101

People adore your dinner parties, and the nights out that you plan for friends are remembered months later. But what happens when your guest list jumps from 10 to 100 or more for your wedding? There are lots of things to consider when you’re planning the reception part of your big day, says Amy Schwartz, event consultant for Complete weddings + events. Topping her list for couples: venue, caterer and entertainment. Here, Schwartz and Jen Mrsny of Cherry On Top Events by Jen share tips for eight important considerations.


DATES

It’s definitely not as simple as calling for a dinner reservation. You need to think ahead and avoid dates that are in high demand. Think Berkshire Hathaway shareholders weekend, the College World Series and Husker football games. Costs can triple and rooms disappear because of high demand. “If you’re a Husker diehard, you’ll find that the Husker bye week is one of the most popular dates. Vendors book a lot faster on these popular dates/weekends,’’ Mrsny says.

VENUE

Think about venue capacity and layout, along with your guest list. If your venue will hold 250 people and your guest list is at 450, then you’ll have to choose another venue or make some difficult cuts. Just because a venue will hold 250 guests doesn’t mean you should pack them in like sardines.

PARKING

When choosing a venue, don’t overlook parking, or it could be a tough night for your guests. Is there a parking lot, shuttle service, street parking, valet service? “Definitely something to keep in mind,’’ Mrsny says.

AMBIANCE

Once you have the venue, determine how you want it to look and what it will take to achieve your vision. A board room layout won’t work for a reception, but it may work for an intimate catered rehearsal dinner.

CATERING

Talk over what you’d like to serve. That might entail visits to various vendors, so don’t leave the menu until the last minute.

BUDGET

Create a list of wants and a list of needs. You might find that some things on your wants list aren’t as important once you start adding up the costs, Schwartz says.

SURPRISE GUESTS

Since getting guests to RSVP is a challenge for everyone, Mrsny recommends having a “ghost table” when capacity allows. “A ‘ghost table’ is essentially an extra table that no one is meant to sit at,’’ Mrsny says. “However, if a rogue guest shows or you completely spaced Aunt Betty’s table assignment, a seat will be ready.’’

DAY-OF COORDINATOR

This was a big one for Schwartz. “I was able to enjoy my wedding day, and she (the coordinator) kept my mom sane,’’ she says. “She basically covered all our bases, taking care of details and communicating with other vendors and making sure they all showed up.’’

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Wedding Chapel – Create a Wedding Budget and Save for What you Really Want

How to Create a Wedding Budget and Save for What you Really Want

Figure Out Your Budget

Determine Who is Contributing (and How Much!)

You can’t create a budget for your wedding without knowing how much you have to spend! Start by talking with your parents. Ask if they would be willing to contribute to your wedding expenses, and determine how much they are prepared to chip in. Knowing an exact dollar amount here is crucial, as you’ll need it to determine your total budget. Some parents may prefer to cover a specific item (such as your dress or the photography fee), in which case you should find out what price range or maximum price they’d be willing to spend.

Make a List of Priorities

While nearly every wedding website offers some sort of break-down based on your total budget (and those generic spreadsheets are a great place to start!), every wedding has different priorities and every couple spends money differently. Talk to your S.O. about the items that mean the most to you, whether it’s having spectacular flowers or serving the best meal your guests have ever had at a wedding. On the other hand, you should also talk about the things that aren’t as important to you, like a live band or high-end rentals. Knowing what matters most (and might require a little extra $$) and what you can live without will help you customize your budget to fit your needs.

Do Your Research

Know How to Save

Consider the Off-Season

June through September is prime wedding season, meaning you’ll be paying a premium for in-demand services. One great way to cut costs? Pick a different month! Look at dates in late April and May, as well as into October or early November, for lower prices along with a chance of decent weather. Avoid holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve, when travel and hotel rooms are costly and spaces are being booked quickly for holiday parties. Of course, keep the region’s weather patterns in mind: Avoid hurricane season in coastal areas, as well as months known for major snow and ice storms. The price will be low, but there’s no party if your guests can’t get there! If you have prime wedding season in mind, alternate days like Friday or Sunday (or even a weeknight!) usually come with lower prices than Saturday evenings.

Shop Sample Sales and Trunk Shows

Your wedding dress will probably be the most expensive article of clothing you ever buy, but it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Browse the list of designers at local bridal salons to figure out who carries styles you love, then sign up for their mailing lists to get notifications about upcoming trunk shows, sample sales, and other events. When the email comes in, schedule an appointment ASAP so you can peruse the largest selection. Don’t forget to check out veils, accessories, and shoes too!

Book Smart 

When you’ve found vendors you love, look for ways to make your dollar go as far as you can. Move floral arrangements from the altar to the bar, and use bridesmaids’ bouquets as centerpieces. See if your photographer also offers videography, or rents a photo booth for less than you might pay for a dedicated company.

Know When to Spend

Invest in Photography

This doesn’t mean you have to devote a massive portion of your budget to photography, but this is the time to opt for quality over cost. A good photographer is truly worth it—those photos only get more valuable over time, and memories are priceless! There are so many special moments (planned and candid) that happen throughout your wedding day, and while you might be able to find a cheaper option, that lower price could mean things get missed. Instead, do your research, ask around, and invest in a package that offers all the coverage you really want.

Don’t Skimp on Food

There are lots of ways to get more for you money with catering, but cutting back on how much food you offer is not the way to do it. Instead of skipping hors d’oeuvres or opting for smaller dinner portions, work with your caterer to find options that allow you to give your guests a really indulgent meal. That might mean food stations instead of tray-passed appetizers (which will cut down on staffing costs) or a buffet-style meal instead of a plated surf and turf duet. Your guests have put in the time and effort to be there with you, so reward them with a delicious (and filling!) dinner.

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How to Send Paperless, Email Wedding Invitations

How to Send Paperless, Email Wedding Invitations

Who says wedding invitations and save-the-dates have to be printed? Going paperless can be a great way to save money, and email wedding invitations can be romantic, lovely affair, just like their physical counterparts. “Invitations, whether they’re online or in-print, are the first piece of part of your wedding that your guests will interact with and they absolutely set the tone for your wedding and what your guests can expect,” says Seattle-based wedding planner Julia Pavlovski. If you’re considering digital wedding invitations, we say go for it. With the right approach and attention to detail, you can create all the panache of a traditional invitation at a significantly lower cost. Here’s everything you need to know about going paperless.

1. Lower Cost

The average cost of physical wedding invitations is $5,000 to $8,000. The average cost of digital wedding invitations, on the other hand, will cost no more than $100. Clearly, this can make a big difference for brides on a budget or for brides who would rather invest their money elsewhere (like, say, an open bar).

2. Less Hassle

If you go digital, you’re going to be saving a lot of time. Just think: no licking envelopes, no adhering rhinestones, no writing addresses in your best cursive until your hand cramps…The actual act of getting wedding invitations ready to mail out can be incredibly time-consuming, and when you’re already have a wedding checklist a mile long, anything you can do to save time is amazing.

3. RSVPs are Easy-Breezy

With an online invitation service, RSVP-ing has never been so simple — for both the bride and the guests. Rather than having everyone fill out an RSVP card and mail it back, your guests will be directed to your wedding website where they can immediately check yes or no.

4. All Your Designs will Flow

With online invitations, it’s incredibly easy to make your save-the-dates, wedding invitations, wedding website and even thank you cards all part of the same design suite. Incorporate your wedding colors and the general vibe of your wedding into the details of your invitation, just as you would with a traditional invitation.

5. No Trees Will Be Harmed in the Making of Your Invites

Eco-conscious brides can rest easy knowing their wedding invitations did not waste any paper whatsoever.

How to Send Paperless Wedding Invitations

If you’re convinced that email wedding invitations are the way to go, there are a few sites you should know about. The following online services are affordable, intuitive and offer plenty of great templates.

Evite

At one point or another, we’ve all gotten an Evite for a house party, bar mitzvah or bridal shower … but did you know Evite also handles weddings? It’s oh-so-easy to import your contacts and get to sending. Once sent, you will be notified as soon as guests RSVP or comment. On top of that, you can schedule event reminders in the days leading up to the wedding. You can also select an option that directs Evite to follow up with your guests post-wedding and asks them to email over any photos they took at the event. With Evite Premium, you will be able to further customize your invitation by adding photos and embellishments, and the invitation will also be sent with a digital envelope and without advertisements. Premium invitations begin at $5 for 15 invitations, $12 for 50 invitations, $20 for 125 invitations, and $35 for 300 guests. (You can also set up standard email invitations that do not include the ability to RSVP and have advertisements, and those prices go down to $2 for 15 invitations, $4 for 50 invitations, $12 for 125 invitations, and $20 for 300 guests). Check out some of Evite’s email invitations..

Paperless Post prides itself on being a “pretty and practical” solution for brides. With designs from Kate Spade New York, Rifle Paper Co., Oscar de la Renta and Mr. Boddington’s Studio, you’re sure to fall in love with one of their invitation templates. You can also upload your own design to use, as well. Their wedding invitations vary in price, but average about $18 for 30 invitations, $28 for 60 invitations and $42 for 90 invitations. Check out some of Paperless Post’s digital wedding invitations.

Greenvelope

Greenvelope’s invitations are infinitely customizable. You’ll find every kind of design, from modern to floral to classic to bohemian. Whatever you choose, you’re able to edit the background, the text, the colors and, of course, the text. You can even customize the digital envelope that comes with it by adding a virtual envelope liner in anything from glitter to gold. Pricing begins at $39 and includes invitation tracking. Check out Greenvelope’s wedding invitations.

GLO

GLO is a one-stop shop for digital wedding invitations, save-the-dates and websites. GLO offers guest list management, making it easy to track RSVPs. GLO invitations are infinitely customizable. Pavolvski worked with a bride who used GLO and they were very pleased with the service. The primary motivation? Cost. As with all the other digital wedding invitation services, GLO is a money saver. “It was less expensive to use GLO than to print all the invitations and RSVP cards and postage and all that. The bride wanted to use the invitation money for other expenses, and the RSVP management was a big help. The bride uploaded a custom-designed watercolor and used it for the invitations she sent out with GLO,” says Pavolvski. Prices start at $19.99 and include web hosting. Check out GLO’s paperless wedding invitations.

Riley Grey

While Riley Grey specializes in creating unique, luxury wedding websites, they also offer save-the-dates and wedding invitations (online or physical) that are part of the same design suite as your wedding website. They release a new collection of designs with every season, and have a large catalog of past work. You can also work with them to create something entirely your own from scratch. Prices begin at $35 per month of site hosting, which will include a digital invitation design, and go up to a $240 for an entire year of hosting. Check out some of Riley Grey’s designs.

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Wedding Chapel – The 12 Best Sparkling Wines For Toasts (Under $50!)

The 12 Best Sparkling Wines For Toasts (Under $50!)

From holiday festivities to memorable milestones, a great celebration calls for a great bottle of bubbly. But, like anything else in life, quality is more important than quantity (here, we’re talking price tag). Even the nation’s top wine connoisseurs know that choosing the right sparkling wine does not mean require you going broke in the process. “Expensive bottles are usually the result of more time aged in the bottle and more expensive grapes,” says Mari Coyle, Director of Wine for ONEHOPE. “But there are still great-tasting bottles that are less aged and use less expensive grapes.”

The key to finding the right bottle for you starts with your preferred level of sweetness. “Depending on your taste preferences, it’s important to note which sparkling wine types will be dry versus sweet,” Coyle says. Next up: Know grape flavors. Coyle explains that Blanc de Blanc, for example, is made of Chardonnay grapes, which often evoke crisp apple, pear and citrus flavors, where Blanc de Noir is made from black or red Pinot Noir grapes with red berry flavors. Rosé, on the other hand, is made by blending a small percentage of Pinot Noir into the Chardonnay to make the wine pink. So which bottles will pack a whole lot of celebration into one expensive-tasting, but affordable, bottle under $50? We asked top sommeliers for their best recs.

This non-vintage sparkling wine hails from Champagne, France, so it starts with a level of OG-ness that’s hard to recreate. It features a relatively high proportion of Chardonnay, which exudes an extra crispness and elegance, says Sarah Tracey, sommelier and founder of The Lush Life. “It’s blended with 15-20 percent aged ‘reserve wine’—a true signifier of luxury!” Grab this bottle if you’re in the mood for fresh fruity flavors of apple and citrus combined with nutty notes of almond and elderflower.

If you’re trying to stay in a more affordable range, but retain quality and deliciousness, Stacey Khoury-diaz, founder of Dio Wine Bar in Washington, D.C., suggests this California sparkling wine. “The Blanc de Blancs, made from 100 percent Chardonnay is creamy with notes of toast and citrus,” she says. “While not technically a champagne, this sparkling is made in the champagne method, with champagne grapes.” Plus, the winery practices sustainable farming, which is always an welcomed bonus.

If you’re trying to stay in a more affordable range, but retain quality and deliciousness, Stacey Khoury-diaz, founder of Dio Wine Bar in Washington, D.C., suggests this California sparkling wine. “The Blanc de Blancs, made from 100 percent Chardonnay is creamy with notes of toast and citrus,” she says. “While not technically a champagne, this sparkling is made in the champagne method, with champagne grapes.” Plus, the winery practices sustainable farming, which is always an welcomed bonus.

“It is impossible not to taste Duval-Leroy’s 150 years of Champagne production in every sip of this wine,” says Tim Wallace, staff sommelier at Stowe Mountain Lodge. “Duval-Leroy balances Pinot Noir and Chardonnay through the terroir of 15 different Cru vineyards in Champagne.” So whether you’re celebrating with oysters or pork chops, you can pretty much count on Duval-Leroy to go with everything.

When it comes to Champagne, the term “cuvée” means the first-pressed (aka the best) grape juice of the year. You can expect a not-too-sweet, chardonnay-forward blend that has a pleasant, honey scent. “The first sip has a lemon-meringue, creamy taste with a tart finish, and just seconds later your mouth is dry,” says Jeremy Allen, sommelier and general manager of MiniBar Hollywood. “It’s more clean than complex and more red apple cider than grape juice, which makes it great for a celebration longer than a one-bottle sitting, or for earlier in the day.”

This American winery from California’s Anderson Valley is owned and operated by Roederer, one of the top houses in Champagne, explains Tracey. “They definitely bring all the care and craft they have cultivated for decades in France to their American outpost.” This bottling, called L’Ermitage, is made only in years where the fruit quality is truly exceptional, so you can expect nothing less than celebratory-worthy flavor.

The straw yellow hue of this dry Champagne exudes aromas of white flowers and summer pear, so it has a soft and delicate flavor. “It smells like fresh laundry in summer,” says Allen, who finds Lanson’s Brut to be a little too lean, so he much prefers the dryer (sec), label. “The White Label is a deeper color with a bigger mouthfeel and only a hint of sugar on the finish,” he adds.

According to Josie Zeiger of MFW Wine Co., this is one of the most readily available Champagnes on the market. “Perrier-Jouët (you pronounce the t) is classic and feminine, made from Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay,” she says. “It carries notes of fresh apples and lemons with aromas of tropical fruit and spices.” Since it is so elegant and crisp, she loves to see it served with a raw bar, or any light shellfish dish, though it could easily be paired with wedding cake, too.

Gosset only uses juice from the first-pressed grapes of the season and conducts the fermentation process in small oak barrels. This gives the Champagne an unrivaled richness that’s typically found in slow-maturing wines. “The flavors include lemon cake, poached pear, ginger and apple with delicate acidity and a creamy finish,” says Justin Evelyn, sommelier and executive hospitality manager at Bagby Beer in Oceanside, California. “This is a great option if you’re looking for a Champagne to carry you through from aperitif to dessert.”

This intensely salmon-colored rose is a delicate balance of fruity flavors—ripe red currants, cherries, strawberries—with a hint of earthiness. “The nose on this intense, deep pink sparkler is awesome—halfway between meat and cherries, which means it can go with anything,” says Allen. “The blend is about 45 percent white wine from white grapes, 45 percent white wine from red grapes and 10 percent red wine from red grapes.”

This famed Champagne house still delivers quality and consistency year after year, according to Taylor Grant, wine director at Scopa Italian Roots in Venice, California. “It’s robust, yet elegant, with more Chardonnay in the blend than traditional NV cuvées. “It’s a versatile option that guests can enjoy well beyond cocktail hour and throughout the dinner.”

This is a Champagne Zeiger would like to see Prince Harry and Meghan Markle drink this at their 2018 wedding (which, clearly, says a lot!). “Pronounced ‘sawn-GHER,’ this wine is the product of the enology school responsible for training 80 percent of Champagne’s winemakers, where current students are trained by former pupils (now Champagne’s most accomplished winemakers) using grapes donated from some of the most prestigious vineyards throughout Champagne,” he says. “This cuvée is equal parts Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. The bubbles are very fine, the nose presents white peach, apricot and strawberries.”

“As American wine embarks on its newest frontier, the northeast, Hermann J. Wiemer has been producing world class wines for what feels like forever,” says Wallace. “It’s a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, so it’s marked by serious acidity that help you celebrate with those chickens that have been on the rotisserie for the past few hours.”

6 Unique Wedding Ceremony Seating Ideas

6 Unique Wedding Ceremony Seating Ideas

If you’re looking for a way to make your wedding ceremony feel fresh and memorable, consider one of the first things your guests will see once they arrive—their ceremony seats. Instead of the expected straight rows, why not switch up your ceremony seating plan? Rearranging the chairs into interesting shapes—like squares, semi-circles, and even spirals—can make your ceremony feel more intimate and inclusive (you’ll literally be surrounded by your loved ones!).

Of course, you’ll need to adapt your seating plan to work with your ceremony space, but as long as you’ve accounted for the number of guests and ensured that everyone has a good view of the ceremony proceedings at the altar, anything goes. Keep reading to see some of the most creative ceremony seating arrangements we’ve seen.

Ceremony In the Round

Arrange your seats in a circular pattern so you’re literally surrounded by your loved ones—it’ll make everyone feel included in the ceremony, instead of just looking on. We love how this couple chose translucent ghost chairs; they’re the perfect choice since you wouldn’t want anything to detract from such a spectacular view.

Circular Ceremony Seating (Intimate)

A circular-seating style also works for more intimate ceremonies, as well. Arrange the seats so that you’re encircled by your guests; you could also add lush garlands of fresh greenery and flowers to help define the center space. Be sure to leave an aisle (or two!) to help with traffic flow.

Square Ceremony Seating (Chairs on Three Sides)

If you’re planning to exchange vows beneath a large ceremony structure, like a chuppah, arrange the chairs so that they surround the structure; this way, your guests will have better views of the ceremony all around.

Half-Circle Ceremony Seating

Instead of arranging the chairs in straight rows, curve them to create a semi-circle shape, which feels a bit cozier and more intimate. Bonus: Guests seated furthest away from the aisle will have a much-improved view.

Spiral Ceremony Seating

Make an outdoor wedding a bit more intimate by setting up chairs in a spiral. This will create a dramatic, winding aisle—plus, how amazing will it be to see each and every guest as you circle your way to the center?

It’s important to work be flexible with your ceremony space