Real Bride Blogger: What If It Rains?

Guest Post by Real Bride Blogger Sandee McGlaun

One of the questions that pops into my bride’s head in the middle of the night and pins me to the bed with worry: what if it rains?

venuestairsOur venue does have an indoor area, and we have a loose rain plan in place. But so much of the appeal of the Rooftop is in the vistas of the town below and the surrounding mountains, the prospect of watching sunset fall over it all. And I confess, there is more than a little appeal in the drama of descending the curved ”glass” staircase in a beautiful gown, which will be all but impossible in a downpour.

I got a little sneak peek into the “what if it rains?’ scenario with my bridal portraits. I elected to have portraits taken ahead of the wedding in part to ensure that if it did rain on our wedding day, I’d still have some good photos of me in my gown in those dramatic rooftop spaces. What I didn’t count on: that I would wake up the morning of the bridal portrait shoot to the gentle patter of rain on the roof. And that it would keep raining. And then rain some more.

Of course, bridal portraits, unlike a wedding, can be rescheduled, right? Well, yes. But that’s not as simple as it sounds. My dress fitting had been arranged specifically to accommodate portrait day, and I’d also been scrambling to make sure I had all accessories (shoes, jewelry) selected and in place. None of those elements had to be reworked, but everything else did. Arranging the first bridal portrait session required pulling together a significant number of puzzle pieces: coordinating the availability of the venue (we had to find a night there wasn’t another event on the roof) and my photographer, along with same-day appointments for makeup and for hair, plus arranging for a small bouquet to be delivered by the florist. I’d had my nails done a couple of days before, and most importantly, I’d also asked two of my girlfriends, D.B, and Shannon, to come and help. They both have roles in the wedding, and they both happily agreed. We were all really looking forward to sharing what I hoped would be a special evening.

By 1 pm on the day of the session—we were aiming for a sunset shoot—I got a text from my photographer, noting the rain, and asking what I wanted to do. If we didn’t reschedule, we’d have to change locations. My hair and makeup appointments started at 3:30, so I had to call it by 2 pm. The problem was, I couldn’t call it until I knew whether there was another date when I could get all the pieces put back together again. I’d started weeks ahead, arranging the first shoot. This time, I had an hour.

Thus began a flurry of emails, calls, and texts. If we moved it to X day, could the hairstylist fit me in? What night is the venue free? What was the forecast for those nights? It was too late to cancel the bouquet, but if I kept it in the fridge and didn’t put the shoot off too many days, it might last. Okay, let me check back with the photographer again. Should we just give up and change the venue?

By the time I talked to my makeup artist, the stress overwhelmed me. I had a minor meltdown and burst into tears.

Despite the rain and all the anxiety it caused, I did manage to get everything moved to the following Friday. The weather was perfect, and the shoot went beautifully. My one regret: girlfriends D.B. and Shannon had prior commitments, so they couldn’t be part of the evening. My friend and wonderful trainer Sondy came to help, and we had lots of fun. Still, I missed having the other gals there, too, and I later wondered at the wisdom of privileging the pursuit of an ideal (the perfect portrait) over sharing meaningful moments (making memories) with people you love.

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The experience gave me some valuable perspective on the question, “What if it rains?” For the bridal portraits, the rain meant my girlfriends couldn’t be present and couldn’t share my joy, and that was deeply disappointing. But if it rains on our wedding day, there won’t be any rescheduling. We’re still going to get married. Our family and friends will still be there, and we’ll still celebrate the occasion surrounded by people we love. If it rains, it rains. It’s still going to be a beautiful day.

And brooding clouds or stunning sunset, the happy smiles that light up every picture will make it seem like the sun was there all along, beaming high and bright.

About Sandee:

Sandee McGlaun chronicles the adventures of marrying at mid-life on her blog, 40-Something First Time Bride. She directs the Writing Center and teaches at Roanoke College in Salem. When not writing, teaching, or planning her wedding, she enjoys puttering in the craft room, hiking through the woods, and checking out the local music scene with fiancé Steve. She likes to dispel stereotypes and thus looks forward to becoming a married crazy cat lady.

On Pins & Needles (& Ribbon & Glue): Advice for DIY Brides

Guest Post by Real Bride Blogger Sandee McGlaun

I have a confession. I’m over a year into planning our wedding, and I have yet to make my first pin on Pinterest. In fact, I’ve only visited the Grand Portal of Wedding Inspiration once.

It’s not because I’m not a DIY Bride—quite the opposite. I’ve been an artsy-crafty creative type since before the founders of pinning were out of their diapers. I grew up watching my mother draw, paint, sew, knit, and take photographs, and spent many happy childhood hours making things of my own. I remember trailing down the aisles of Hancock Fabrics, admiring the colors and textures, later snipping doll clothes from scraps as my mom stitched a new dress for me. Other hot Georgia afternoons, we lingered in the cool of the ceramics shop, dwarfed by tall shelves of dusty green-ware, trying to decide what to paint next.

Sandee breaks out the spray paint for the wire cupcake stand project.

Sandee breaks out the spray paint for the wire cupcake stand project.

As I got older, I dabbled in paper-making, polymer clay, simple jewelry. I enjoyed scrapbooking for a while and made lots of cards. I discovered the pottery wheel was not my friend. My favorite projects these days combine fabric, beads, and embroidery.

I knew from the moment Steve and I got engaged I would be hands-on with the design and décor of our wedding. Within days of saying “yes,” I’d chosen wedding colors and had a working list. I’d been hanging out in fabric stores and craft rooms for so long, my mental bulletin board of ideas—even without browsing Pinterest—was chock-full.

My mother and I have joined forces on tabletoppers, bench pillows, and paper flowers, and I’ve created a variety of cupcake stands from found objects as well as decorative columns to mark the aisle and ceremony spaces. My mom made our ring pillow, and I’m working on a clutch bag and a garter, painting some photo booth props, designing a caketopper, and mending my mother’s train so I can wear it.

I’m a lifetime DIYer working with a 16-month-long engagement, and time still feels short for our ambitious list. Based on my experience, I have a few pointers for other brides considering DIY projects.

First, inspiration can come from anywhere—and sometimes, less is more. Pinterest is almost overwhelming in its vastness. Instead, first flip through a few DIY wedding books at the library or bookstore—they’re more focused, and they’ll help you find your vision as well as minimize the intimidation factor. Limiting your sources also keeps you from being sucked in by trends that don’t suit you. Did all the brides of the last couple of years really dream their whole lives of wrapping their wedding days in burlap? I like how its rough earthiness balances tulle’s airy froth (like a leather jacket over a floral dress). But too much trendy means your wedding looks like everyone else’s.

My inspiration has come from surprising places. A duvet cover in Bed, Bath, and Beyond (perfect fabric design). A wire shoe rack at the consignment store (funky flower-like cupcake stand). I bought a few magazines and Elizabeth Demos’ book Vintage Wedding Style, which helped me refine ideas and source unique items like the antique maps we’ve incorporated into our invitations. Mostly I’ve tried to keep my eyes open for things that moved me, and let the venue itself inspire. Problem: four wide (boring) wooden benches. Solution: design and scatter colorful handmade pillows.

Some of the pillows we’ve made for venue benches.

Some of the pillows we’ve made for venue benches.

Second, consider three key elements when deciding how much DIY you want to incorporate into your wedding: your motivation, your own history as an artsy-craftsy person, and your timeline.

  1. What’s your motivation for wanting to DIY? To save money? You really love the handmade/rustic/upcycled look? You want to put a genuinely personal touch on your day?

Realistically, if your prime motivation for DIY—especially if you’re not a crafty type—is saving money, you might reconsider. You know how a “simple” one-hour home repair has a way of turning into two days + three trips to the hardware store? That’s not uncommon with DIY crafts, either. Figuring out how to do it right often means doing it not-so-right at least once (check out pinterestfail.com). Savvy crafters can accurately estimate the costs of buying 25 clear vases, glass spray-paint, and 10 yards of ribbon for wrapping and bows—and they probably already own tools like good fabric scissors and a hot glue gun. For a novice without a ready supply of quality tools—and the right tools are the key to polished projects—it might actually be cheaper to buy or rent finished vases.

It’s safe to assume most DIY projects will cost a little more than you think—especially trendy ones. People began decorating with Mason jars in part because they were inexpensive; now that they’re in demand, sellers charge a premium. Budget for mistakes: always buy enough materials (especially for complex projects) to do one or two practice runs, and save receipts so you can return any unopened supplies you don’t use.

If it’s a handmade look that matters most, consider whether it would be more cost effective (and time-saving) to purchase handmade items from a craft market or Etsy. If your primary goal is to put your personal stamp on the day, read on!

  1. What’s your history and skill level as a DIY crafter?

If you’re genuinely excited at the prospect of making your own decorations or favors, you should go for it. Obviously, the less experience you have (in general or in a specific craft), the steeper the learning curve. There is something for every skill level. You want projects to be fun, not frustrating, so the trick is to find your DIY match.

One of the aisle markers made from a plant stand.

One of the aisle markers made from a plant stand.

If you’re a newbie, consider simply refurbishing or dressing up a found object. I turned metal plant stands into aisle-marker columns with white spray paint and colorful ribbons (paint and ribbon are some of your best DIY friends). I’m making a purchased garter my own by adding lace from my mother’s wedding dress. You don’t have to start from scratch or make something completely original—adapt an object or an idea you saw somewhere and liked.

Don’t be afraid to enlist help from family or friends. Add snacks and beverages, and a group crafting session turns into a wedding-prep party.

  1. How much time do you have—and how much will you really need?

As with cost, so with time: most projects take more time than you expect. Be wary of advertised estimates, usually made by experienced crafters. Complete novice? Triple the given estimate. Crafty but never done craft X? Double it. Be sure to factor in supply shopping trips, or shipping time from online sources. If you finish early, bonus! Better to be done ahead of schedule than stressing out at the last minute.

Consider project complexity, the length of your engagement, and your other commitments when deciding how many projects are feasible. If you take on more than one or two, prioritize. If time runs short, you’ll have completed whatever matters most.

Finally, think about whether and where you can safely store whatever you make until your wedding day. Large or particularly fragile projects require extra planning and care.

2 cake stands made from found vintage objects

2 cake stands made from found vintage objects

Some wedding preparations, like catering, I think are best left to the experts—Ruth Reichl tells a funny and terrifying tale about her mother, who insisted on cooking despite not having adequate storage or refrigeration, and poisoned all the wedding guests. That’s not the DIY outcome anyone wants! But a big part of the fun for many brides is being hands-on with at least some of the preparations. If that’s you, find a DIY wedding project you love, and dig in.

In Praise of Girlfriends

A Shower & Spice & Everything Nice: In Praise of Girlfriends

By Real Bride Blogger Sandee McGlaun

A couple of weeks ago, I did something I’d come to think I’d never have the chance to do: I was the guest of honor at a bridal shower.

Maid-of-honor Melissa and bridesmaids D.B. and (from afar) Sherry threw me a beautiful shower, which my mom and a number of my local girlfriends attended. Melissa held it in her backyard on a sunny Saturday morning, and it was exquisite. She’d set up two tents for us and decorated with hot pink pinwheels, bright orange and blue lanterns, blooming flowers, and colorful candies. She greeted us with freshly mixed mimosas, and there was plenty of refreshing lemon water to keep us cool.  We dined on two kinds of quiche, homemade muffins, fresh fruit, and yogurt parfaits. For dessert, we had cupcakes, which Melissa had arranged and frosted in the shape of a wedding dress! shower24

D.B. prepared creative and beautiful party favors of handmade Blue Bear soaps, serums, and lip balms, placed in bags with the tag “From Sandee’s Shower to yours!”  We played several well-chosen games. I’m a crafty girl, and Melissa had set out paints and a canvas so that everyone who attended could paint a heart. And I’m a word nerd, so I loved both the bridal word search and a game where we passed around a pretty box containing descriptive couplets: whose hair was shortest, or who’d been married the longest. The box was passed to the person who fit each couplet best, and once all the clues had been drawn, the last person holding the box won the prize.

And there were presents, too. We’d chosen a theme of “Spice it up!” so the gifts ranged from exotic cooking spices, salts, and linens for the kitchen, to lingerie, massage goodies, and other items to “spice up” the boudoir.

I was utterly overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness, creativity, and generosity of my friends. But given what amazing women they are, I wasn’t surprised.

Couples’ showers are becoming more common, and I do have dear male friends, too, so perhaps it’s a little old-fashioned to have a girlfriends-only shower. But as an older bride who’s spent more of her adult years than not uncoupled and living far from blood family, I have an especially deep appreciation for my girlfriends. Over the past 20 years, more often than not it’s my girlfriends who’ve been by my side, day after day. They’re the ones who’ve given me lifts to the airport, who’ve gone out dancing with me on my birthday. Who helped me move, one more time. Who brought me soup when I got pneumonia, took my panicked 3 AM call when my house was broken into, listened to work woes and endless crazy dating stories in the days before Steve. They’re the ones who let me belt Indigo Girls’ songs in their car without setting me on the curb, who’ve laughed with me, hiked up mountains with me, talked books and drunk wine and shared s’mores and dreams around the firepit. They’ve rescued and reassured and re-energized me.

My girlfriends are my family. And for me, my bridal shower was as much a celebration of them as it was of me becoming a bride.

I’ve known a few of the wonderful women in my life for decades (mom, of course, whom I also consider a friend; and Sherry and I first palled around in the third grade…), others just a few years. And what a rich diversity of life and relationship experiences: some of my gal pals are single; some married; some in committed relationships. Some of the singles are divorced, others have never married. For those with children, their kids range anywhere from 2 to 25 years old. There are single parents; non-parents, and parents to fur kids only. It’s hard to imagine a question or conundrum I could encounter outside the realm of these women’s collective wisdom. It’s important to me to sustain my friendships even though I’m now coupled up. We all need good girlfriend time.

shower20I only cried once during the shower.  (Though to be honest, I saved myself from a second bout only by hugging my thanks instead of squeaking out the words choking me up). After the passing-the-box game, Melissa distributed pens and paper for one more activity, a storytelling game–perfect for a writer-bride!  She read off a list of words, and the guests were instructed to compose, within seven minutes, a love story that incorporated all the words. My job was to read the finished stories out loud and pick my favorite.

Theirs was no small task: the list of words included “earthquake,” “doghouse,” “fire,” and “chemistry,” among others. Let me tell you, I have some talented and funny girlfriends. One story featured two lovebirds falling for each other while building a doghouse. In another, the man had already built the house and invited his love interest to come see his peke-a-poo’s new abode. One couple met over a Bunsen burner in chemistry class. Still another tale placed me in California, where an earthquake led to romance. Several stories made it clear Steve would/should never be in the doghouse. D.B’s story, which ended with Steve saying, “Call the fire department – my baby is hot!” made me laugh out loud.

But the one that made me cry was a true story. Our friend Brigitte, whom I met through Steve, wrote about a “lonely professor” of “forestry, not chemistry” who had talked about his “search for someone special” while sitting by a campfire. I got about two sentences in and realized the story was about Steve, before I knew him, and I had to hand the paper to my mother to finish reading it aloud. Knowing that Steve has also cherished, and been supported by, a family of dear friends during his single-father years touches me deeply. Brigitte later polished up the story and emailed it to both of us, which made me tear up all over again.

As “his” friends and “my” friends become our friends, I look forward to celebrating our wedding with their love and laughter surrounding us. And my girlfriends don’t know it yet, but there’s going to be a special song played during the reception in honor of all their beautiful selves. Get your dancing shoes ready, ladies, because we’re going to kick up our heels, together.

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Mothers, Daughters, and Wedding Dresses: A Middle-Aged Bride Shops for “the One”

Editor’s Note: Meet our new real bride blogger Sandee, who will be sharing her journey via our blog. She also blogs on her personal website, 40-Something First Time Bride, and we highly encourage you to check out more information on Sandee’s engagement process!

By Real Bride Blogger Sandee McGlaun

SandeeI’m a forty-something first-time bride, and this is my story.

I don’t mean that to sound overly dramatic, because if there’s anything I’ve discovered in taking on the identity of “bride-to-be” in middle-age, it’s that I am actively anti-drama. Life is complicated enough, and after all these many years of waiting and wondering, now that I’m finally in love, engaged, and planning to marry in September, I want all things wedding to be simple, fun, and (relatively) stress-free.

As a forty-something bride, I know what I like, and I’m clear on what traditions and trends appeal (Dad walking me down the aisle, yes) and which aren’t for me (unity sand, no thanks). With so many years to dream, though, my desire for simplicity has occasionally run smack up against those more elaborate visions I concocted over the years of what this process would look like.

For example, more than once I’ve imagined the scene of going wedding dress shopping with my mom. I’ve always been close to my mother Margaret, a retired biology teacher with an artist’s eye and a grandma’s heart. She’s still my favorite shopping companion, and I’d long envisioned an elegant and exciting day filled with white tulle and happy tears. We’d dress up, shop multiple bridal boutiques, then share a lovely lunch and a cup of tea (or glass of wine) in a cozy café, laugh, cry, and generally bond ourselves silly.

That was the fantasy.  The reality looked a bit different.

***

First of all, between the time my fiancé Steve and I started talking rings and he put one on my finger, I found a Nicole Miller dress I loved and bought it on eBay at half the retail price. It was the practical, smart, and simple thing to do. But I couldn’t quite let go of the dream of dress shopping with my mom. So when she came to visit some months later, we decided to head to the bridal store. Our excursion wasn’t an empty exercise: I had some concerns about the fit of the Miller dress and wanted a back-up, and even if I kept it as I hoped, I still needed accessories.

dressshopping-13We planned to hit at least two shops. At the first store, Mom and I were stopped ten feet inside the front door by an elegant 60-something woman seated at a table. Dressed in a chic black suit, she asked if we wanted to just look around or try on.

“Um, look around to see if there’s anything we want to try on?” I said, thinking logic dictated that approach.

She noted we were free to look around all we wanted, but trying on required filling out a form. Wedding gowns were to the right, bridesmaids’ dresses to the left, veils in the back.

We perused the racks and found a few contenders for a back-up dress. I wasn’t crazy about the bridesmaid styles on the racks, and nothing appealed to Mom for mother-of-the-bride. As I held up a birdcage veil to my head—frowning at its excess frou-frou—two saleswomen drifted to the back of the store to watch us. Were they trying to figure out if we were serious shoppers, or worried we might steal something?

I suspected my age and lack of apparent bride-ness was confounding them, and I was right. When Mom and I returned to the check-in table, a twenty-something blonde sat there. “Can I help you ladies?” she asked.

“Yes, we’d like to try on some things,” I replied.

She looked at me skeptically. “What kinds of ‘things’?”

Suspicion and disdain had not been part of my fantasy shopping excursions. “Dresses,” I said. “Bridal gowns.” I reached for the form, resisting the urge to wave my ring under her nose.

“Oh, well, it may be two o’clock now before we have a stylist available,” she said. “We have another new bride who just came in.”

“Oh,” I said, glancing at Mom, who raised her eyebrows. This young woman didn’t seem too interested in selling us a dress. We decided to grab lunch and come back. As we exited, we overheard the older woman chide the blonde.dressshopping3

There were no cozy cafes nearby, so we ended up at a chain restaurant across the street. It was startlingly awful. The foyer stank of wet table-rag. Mom’s strawberry avocado salad had no avocado. My shrimp scampi not only lacked the fresh basil that made it so appealing on the menu, but it also came with…marinara sauce? Which, of course, I ended up wearing, then promptly turned into a big grease blotch when I tried to blot it out of my top. Mom and I were still laughing about what had to have been –the worst- dining out experience we’d ever shared when we returned to the bridal shop.

This time I got the full treatment: a bride bag filled with ads, coupons, and a Skinny Cow (ouch?) snack sample, and my name written on a big heart and stuck to a dressing room door. My stylist, “Mary,” began gathering the dresses I liked on a rack, while Mom settled into one of the chairs lined up, fashion-runway style, next to the mirrors, and readied her camera.

Almost all wedding dresses look lovely on the hanger, making it seem impossible to choose. But I figured out two things fast: how a dress feels when you try it on is just as important as how it looks, and taking pictures to see how it reads in photographs can help narrow your choices.

The first dress was a bomb. Partly because it was way too big and no amount of clipping could fix that, but also because its boat-neck and cap sleeves looked matronly. Next. The second gown featured the same ivory-over-champagne illusion lace as the first, but with a v-neck and fitted empire waistline, it was more me. Mom and I both liked a trumpet-silhouette gown with floral detailing and daisy-like flowers trailing down the skirt, but I was wary of its train. Something many brides may not know: dresses with trains don’t come ready-made to bustle, so you either have to trip over the extra fabric all night, or factor the alteration into your dress budget.

The most stunning dress I tried on was a Gatsby-inspired mermaid gown with lots of beading—but it weighed something like 15 pounds. That didn’t sound fun to haul around for a four-hour reception. I also liked a simple ruched mermaid gown neither Mom nor Mary seemed wild about, but in photos, it was one of the most flattering.

dressshopping-11It was a strange day in many ways. Though I’d looked forward to shopping with Mom, I spent as much or more time in the dressing room with the stylist, joking about the upper body strength it required to wrestle women in and out of 15 pound dresses all day. I felt like a princess in the Gatsby dress, but a pudge in the shapewear, which I swear added a good ¼ to ½ inch of bulk (though it did give me bigger boobs.) Lunch was a travesty, and after just one bridal shop, Mom and I were both so exhausted, we elected to call it a day.

As far as veils went, at least, the day was a success. I’d briefly considered a cathedral veil for the flow factor, but when I put one on, it made me feel too…catholic. A birdcage veil was better suited to my age, my style, and—as my mother reminded me—my love of vintage hats.

***

Before we’d embarked on our shopping excursion, I’d modeled the eBay-purchased Nicole Miller dress hanging in my closet at home. When I was ready, I called to Mom, and she came up the stairs and stopped to gaze at me from the room’s doorway.

“Ohhhh,” she said, framing her face with her hands, “It’s beautiful, you look beautiful. I think I’m going to cry!”

She choked up, and I choked up, and then we hugged each other tight.

And though our shopping trip, even with all its wacky surprises, was memorable and fun, this I now understand: if we’d stopped right then and there and held that moment as close as we hugged each other, it would have been more than enough.

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About Sandee:

Sandee McGlaun chronicles the adventures of marrying at mid-life on her blog http://www.40somethingfirsttimebride.com. She directs the Writing Center and teaches at Roanoke College in Salem. When not writing, teaching, or planning her wedding, she enjoys puttering in the craft room, hiking through the woods, and checking out the local music scene with fiancé Steve. She likes to dispel stereotypes and thus looks forward to becoming a married crazy cat lady.

guest post: Why Brides Need a Wedding Planner

Guest Post by Sherri Box of Events by Sherri

Sherri5Why hire a wedding planner? Think it’s a luxury… a cost you can do without or you are just sure you will “lose control” and would prefer to do it all yourself?

The money you spend on hiring a wedding coordinator will be the best investment in your wedding day that you can make AND it will end up saving you money and make the entire planning process more fun because the stress over the small details will be removed!  Sherri3

So consider this. . . . a wedding coordinator actually helps you gain MORE control over your special day because our job is to carry out your wishes down to the last little detail!  We work with you to make sure we understand your  “vision” of your  “perfect day” so we can do everything in our power to make sure that when you see it all come together it’s just as you imagined it would be.  The best feeling in the world is for one of my brides to look at me and tell me “it’s even better than I imagined it” or “it was the best day of my life.”  I have never had a client tell me that they were sorry they hired me but I have had others who chose to do it all themselves tell me that they really wished they had hired a coordinator.

WSherri4e can also save you money by sharing with you the “tricks of the trade” that only experience can provide and by looking at your budget and steering you to vendors that can stay within your price point.  We will find out what’s most important to you and show you ways to spend more on the things that are of utmost importance to you and provide you tips on how to accomplish those things that are further down on your list for less.Sherri1

Many wedding coordinators also have small décor items for your use.  This keeps you from having to purchase all the “small stuff,” sometimes in multiples and then decide what to do with all of it after your wedding weekend is over.  The beauty of that, in addition to cost savings, is that we have it in our inventory, you choose it, we deliver it, we set it up and we break it down.  So that leaves even less for you to worry about AND you’ve saved a little more money.

YSherri2ou probably can do it yourself but why not have someone who is committed to making sure your day is just perfect in every way AND someone who can save you from making costly mistakes along the way, someone who is in your corner and working for you every step of the way!  So now you can actually have more control over your special day, remain budget-conscious throughout the process and have fun planning the most important day of your life to date!

guest post: Party Music for the Reception with RSP Entertainment

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Roy Prusak of RSP Entertainment Photo by Kemper Mills Fant Photography

Roy Prusak of RSP Entertainment
Photo by Kemper Mills Fant Photography

Meet owner Roy Prusak of RSP Entertainment, who was kind enough to tell us more about his business as well as helpful wedding music tips like popular father/daughter songs, tips he’s learned over the years, and songs guaranteed to get your guests on the dance floor!

Q. Tell us about your business: how it got started, what you do, who is involved, etc.?
A. I started Deejaying as a hobby back in 1996 at a ripe old age of 15, both of my uncles were in bands which allowed me access to some excess gear and lucky for me my father put up with the loud jam sessions in our basement! Not too long after playing for some birthday parties and smaller school events, my younger brother Russell started helping and took interest in Deejaying as well. By the end of 1999 we’ve started playing for some weddings so my father and I decided that we needed a company name to continue promoting our family run business and hence RSP Entertainment was born. What does the RSP stand for you may ask? My brother Russell and I both have the same initials, and since we are the main DJs of the company, we agreed that RSP Entertainment fit nicely.

Our company’s goal is to provide our clients with a professional, quality, fun filled and memorable DJ service to handle all of your entertainment needs! We figured what’s the use of having a party if the entertainment is not, well… for lack of a better word, entertaining! Everyone in our company is either family or friends we’ve grown up with and I have personally trained each of them to meet the high expectations of our company.

We have performed at well over 2,000 events since we started back in ’96, and currently have 5 complete DJ crews to cover anything from a small birthday party to elegant weddings. We currently play for well over 120 weddings a year along with company parties and other large arena events up to 6,000 people. We not only keep up with the most advanced gear, video mixing and uplighting trends, but also attend professional conferences such as the one in Las Vegas to keep our skills as up-to-date as our music collection.

Q. What are a few popular father/daughter dance songs? Mother/son?
A. The right father/daughter or mother/son song should be something that’s overly special to the Bride and her father, or the Groom and his mother and can vary greatly depending on their relationship with one another. You should also determine whether you enjoy a tear jerker or a light hearted compilation of songs that make you smile and dance a routine as I’m sure many of you have seen on YouTube.

Some excellent (and often chosen) modern father/daughter songs are “I Loved Her First,” “My Little Girl,” or “Cinderella.” A few choices that are a little more timeless are “My Girl,” “Isn’t She Lovely,” or “Father & Daughter.” The mother and son compliment can be just as sweet or entertaining. More modern selections include “My Wish,” A Song for Mama,” and “A Mother’s Song” while some classics would be “What A Wonderful World,” “Unforgettable,” or even “Simple Man,” given our clientele. Of course, if you’re trying to mix things up we’ve seen everything from starting with a slow song then mixing into “Footloose,” “Baby Got Back,” or “The Wobble” which typically receives cheers from the crowd. Again, the right song is what’s most memorable or exciting to you, as it is your day after all.

Q. What songs are guaranteed to get guests on the dance floor?
A. This is a tough question, as our clientele is so varied, we could play the same 10 “guaranteed” songs at 10 different events and receive 10 different responses. We truly read the crowd to see what works best at each event. That being said, we could “Old Time Rock & Roll your Brown Eyed Girl to the Love Shack where you Shook Me All Night Long” or “Don’t Stop Believin’ that Blurred Lines will get Billie Jean to Wobble to the Thrift Shop saying Yeah, Baby Got Back as she Gets Low and Pours Some Sugar On Me.” Or something like that.

Q. What made you get into this business, why DJing?
A. I’ve always enjoyed music. There are pictures of me sporting a walk-man and large headphones when I was 3, not to mention a video of me singing Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” on stage with my uncle Russ when I was almost four. So I guess you can say it was inevitable that one day I would follow in both of my Uncle’s footsteps of entertainment and great music!

Q. Any other tips or advice you can give to couples when choosing their DJ and/or playlist?
A.Choosing the right playlist can sometimes be easier than choosing the right DJ. I’d suggest providing the key spotlight songs that are meaningful to you, select the genres you’d like played and maybe pick out a top 10 list along with conveying the “feel” you want for the evening, then let the DJ do their job. You’re paying them to be an expert in their field and most experienced DJs will cater to the crowd.

Honestly, choosing the right DJ is kind of like choosing a vacation, cruise or honeymoon package… options are key! Some are really cheap and will likely feel that way. Others are very luxurious but can give you everything you want! There’s usually a happy medium that will suit your needs and the key to selecting the right DJ for your wedding is being very open, knowing what you’re looking for and chat with the DJ or even ask for ideas if you’re not sure.

Ask yourself, does this DJ have an interest in making my event the best it can be? DJs now have the ability to be more than simply someone who plays music. They can be the Master of Ceremonies, lead group dances and some offer audio/visual expertise in things such as dance lighting, uplighting, video/slide show projection and more. If your personality jives with the DJs, it’s likely you’ll have a very entertaining and successful event, the rest is just icing on the cake!

guest post: Why Should I Hire a Wedding Planner?

Simplicity

Guest post by Vicki Itson of Simplicity Event & Wedding Planning

You have a dream in your mind of what you want your wedding day to be. Maybe it’s a dream you’ve had since you became engaged, or maybe it’s one you’ve had since you were a little girl in pig tails. Either way, it’s your dream. A wedding planner’s job is to turn that dream into a reality. You can hire the best caterer, florist, photographer you can find. But none of those vendors know the entire in’s and out’s of every aspect of your day…except a wedding planner. My job is to know your dream inside and out and turn that dream into a reality. Not to mention post-wedding surveys show that one of the number one regrets from a bride is not hiring a wedding planner. Not convinced? Keep reading for a list of my job titles!

Contract Negotiator: Getting to know your vision helps me recommend vendors I trust that will help you. I know the right questions to ask, the right people to talk to, how to get the best prices and what should (or shouldn’t) be in a contract. With over 25 years of experience doing weddings, I have learned what to look for and what possible pitfalls lay ahead. And I plan for all of them!

Financial Advisor: You need someone to help you stay to your budget. I can help you in the beginning to decide what percentage of your budget should be spent where and give you suggestions on how to get the biggest bang for your buck.

Family Therapist: Every wedding has a kind and caring family member that wants to “help.” I’ve seen grandmothers move flowers around and aunts try to rearrange the seating chart while the bride was dressing. I’ve even seen mothers of the bride or groom not respecting the bride’s wishes during the planning process (it’s hard to say no to Mom even when you’re grown!). My job is to ensure your day is perfect. I don’t have to go to next year’s family reunion … you do! So I don’t mind telling them no!

Sleep Provider: If you google wedding checklists, your mind will be blown. There are thousands of them out there. But none of them are customized to your event. No check list out there can ask you every single question about your wedding because no two weddings are ever the same. With me, you can sleep knowing that I’ve already thought about making sure the linen is delivered before the wedding cake … but after the venue has set up the tables.

D-I-Y Enabler: With the launch of planning websites such as pinterest, the D-I-Y’ers are in heaven! But did you stop to think about who is going to put out 200 individually wrapped Hershey kisses at each place setting for an afternoon wedding in the sun? How about those five burlap wrapped votive candle holders you made for every guest table? These things all take time to unpack, set out, and then repack at the end of the night.

Personal Assistant: Most clients I work with have school, jobs, family obligations and pets. With 70 hours of your week already spoken for, that doesn’t leave much time for wedding planning. I’ll keep you on task and do a lot of the communicating for you.

Custodial Engineer: Yes, I’m also the clean up crew! When the sparklers have sparkled, or the bubbles have popped and everyone (including you and your mom) have gone, I’m there boxing up everything that belongs to you to pick up the next day or gathering rental items that need to be returned to the florist. Your family and friends have traveled in from out-of-town to see you, so you and your family shouldn’t be stuck cleaning up.

Your Advocate: I work for you. No one else. Venue coordinators work for their venue. They will coordinate all of your needs at your venue. But rarely will they get into details such as who is walking Grandma down the aisle? Or how are the bridesmaids getting home after the reception because they rode in a limo to the wedding. And I’m not responsible for giving more revenue to the venue. I want to save you money there when I can.

HOW ABOUT A DAY OF COORDINATOR?
So now you’re convinced having someone help is an asset and think a “day of” coordinator is all you need. Imagine this: You walk into your Mother’s kitchen while she’s cooking a dinner for 30 guests coming for dinner. Every eye on the stove has something simmering or boiling. Both racks in the oven are piled with cookie sheets and pans. There’s three mixing bowls on the counter filled with dough and sauces. Got that picture in your head? Okay, now imagine Mom hands you the apron and walks out the door saying “the recipes are on the counter.” To me, there is no way I can effectively manage your wedding when I walk into the kitchen 2 hours before dinner is served. There is no way for me to know enough about you and your dream to be able to coordinate an event as important as your wedding. I definitely don’t feel comfortable making last minute decisions on your behalf so that you can enjoy your family and friends. I need to meet with you to listen to the words you use to describe what’s important to you. I listen for those adjectives you throw out without even know you’re doing it. Meeting with you several times in advance and seeing what decisions you make during the planning, empower me to feel confident making decisions for you on your wedding day.

guest post: Tying Up Loose Ends Before We Tie the Knot!

Guest post by Michelle Glynn

It’s been nine months since Alex and I got engaged, but sometimes it feels like it was yesterday.  Everyone told me time would fly, and it certainly has.  We had a couples shower in early April, and we have had a lot of fun getting the RSVP cards in the mail and some gifts too!  The wedding is coming up very soon, so we are concentrating on the last-minute details, and hoping that everything falls into place!

michelleAlex’s brother and his wife had the couples shower for us at their house in Maryland. They arranged for us to have a private cooking class at the home of the owner of “No Thyme to Cook.”  Alex’s brother and his wife gave us aprons that say “Mr.” and “Mrs.,” and they gave me a white baseball cap with a veil, and they gave Alex a baseball cap that looks like a tuxedo.  Alex and I don’t have a lot of experience in the kitchen, so the class focused on easy meals that don’t require many ingredients.

We made delicious sesame shrimp with roasted broccoli, pork loin with boiled asparagus, and grilled chicken with an amazing sauce and roasted green beans. We learned that there are many uses for extra virgin olive oil, and that it’s not difficult to make a great meal.  Alex and I made the sesame shrimp and asparagus the night we got home from Maryland, and it was fantastic!

In addition to the gifts I got at my bridal shower, we have received some presents in the mail and at our couples shower, and are putting them to good use.  We have gotten the grill we registered for, and have had lots of fun using it.  Alex’s brother and his wife got us the popcorn maker that Alex wanted so desperately, and we have been making delicious popcorn at home!  We are actually having a good time making food, and it tastes great!  For two people who don’t have much experience with cooking, it is a big step!

We have met with the church wedding coordinator and the organist to go over the plans for the ceremony.  Meeting with the organist was one of my favorite parts of the planning process.  Luckily, Alex is very knowledgeable when it comes to classical music, so we were able to choose our songs fairly quickly.  I had originally thought I would walk down the aisle to “Here Comes the Bride,” but I didn’t realize that would be so controversial.

Alex and his mom both said that, of course, it was my choice, but they are not fans of that song.  When I told the organist that I was thinking of using that song, she said that she would need to get special permission to play that piece, but she didn’t think it would be a problem.  Apparently, the Episcopal Church does not normally allow that song.  The organist and I had decided she would ask permission to play it, but then she played Clarke’s “Trumpet Voluntary” for me, and I quickly changed my mind.  I told the organist that I was thinking more about the fanfare in the beginning of “Here Comes the Bride” than the actual song, and she assured me that she would give me a big fanfare regardless of the song that I chose.  I have been listening to Clarke’s “Trumpet Voluntary” on my computer and iPod ever since our meeting!

There are some small things I need to take care of for the reception, like ordering the squares for the guest book quilt, and getting pictures together of Alex and me when we were young.  I also need to order bubbles for when we leave the reception.  We have spoken with the leader of our band about our song choices, and the reception menu is done.  I get so excited when I think about walking into the reception and seeing all of our family and friends.

And, the next time that I write this blog, I will be Mrs. Jackson!

real bride blogger: Being Blessed

Guest post by Michelle Glynn

When Alex and I decided to get married in a church, I’ll admit that the thought of going through premarital counseling made me feel a little queasy. Our wedding ceremony is going to be at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Lynchburg, since that is the church Alex’s family has always attended. Alex’s uncle is an Episcopalian priest, and he will be marrying us, but since he lives in Richmond (and he is family), we chose to have our counseling with the priest at St. Paul’s.

Though we were only required to have three one-hour counseling sessions, I was dreading them, mainly because I didn’t know what to expect.  Even though Alex and I talk all the time about money, and we have discussed whether or not we want to have children, I didn’t know what other “hot topics” might arise. I worried that maybe we would be judged because we are already living together. I was also afraid that the priest might recommend that we not get married. I know that’s a pretty unrealistic fear, but I was thinking about the worst possible outcome. I didn’t know if the priest would be open and easy to talk to, so I wasn’t excited about the prospect of discussing our personal life with someone I didn’t feel comfortable with. As usual, I worried too much!

blessed

We had our first session with the priest in January.  He explained to us that the point of these sessions wasn’t for him to decide if we are compatible or not (Whew!), but for us to discuss our relationship and our future marriage. As we were talking about how Alex and I met online, and how I had recently moved in with him, the priest said that quite a few of the couples that he had married in the past year had met online, and most of them had lived together beforehand, which made me feel better. The three of us discussed the important topics of money and children, and since Alex and I have had many conversations about those subjects, there were no surprises. The priest joked that we were “too easy,” and that he needed to find something for us to think about. Toward the end of our session, he asked us why we wanted to involve the Church in our wedding ceremony. Not specifically St. Paul’s, but the Church in general. He also asked us to think about what would change (besides the obvious) once the ceremony was over. Those questions stumped us, so they became our homework.

Throughout the next few weeks, we discussed our homework, and came to the conclusion that for us, it just feels right to have the Church as part of our wedding. We don’t consider ourselves to be very “religious” people, but a marriage ceremony is special, and is something we want to experience in the Church. We also know that if we decide to have children, we will want them to grow up with the Church in their lives, so we feel we should start our life together in the Church. It is hard to describe in words what will change once we are married, because to us it is about experiencing a feeling, and not something tangible. After much discussion, we decided that the best way to describe it is that we will feel blessed.

Since we are both overachievers, we were very happy when the priest gave us an A+ on our homework at our second session.  At that session, we discussed how we were feeling about the wedding day and the events leading up to it. We had decided to ask two of our friends to be readers at the wedding, so the priest gave us a booklet with Bible verses that we could choose for the ceremony. He asked if there was anything we felt we would need to discuss at our last session, and we really couldn’t think of anything. We decided to have the third and final session after my bachelorette party and bridal shower, in case anything came up after those events that we felt we needed to talk about.

We had our final session, and we focused on the logistics of the ceremony. I got to see where I will be getting ready, and the path I’ll take to get to the back of the church for my entrance. We also did a quick run-through of the ceremony, and it made the wedding seem even more real. Alex and I talked afterwards about how we started feeling emotional, so I’m sure we will both be crying on our wedding day!

I am so glad we decided to get married in the church, because otherwise, I wouldn’t have had this wonderful premarital counseling experience. I’m actually sad that it’s over, which is not what I was expecting. It’s nice to be pleasantly surprised!

real bride blogger: Party On!

Guest Post by Michelle Glynn

With less than three months to go before the big day, our weekends are filling up with fun events! We are lucky to have many wonderful people in our lives who want to celebrate our marriage. We are also especially grateful for the people who are in our wedding party.

When my best friend Allison got married, our other best friend Lindsay and I were her maids of honor. When Lindsay got married, Allison was her matron of honor, and I was her maid of honor. Now that it’s my turn, they will both be my matrons of honor. Of course, I wanted my sister to be in the bridal party as well, and she will be my maid of honor. I know some people might think it’s odd to have two matrons of honor and a maid of honor, but all the girls deserve the special titles! Alex and I decided to have three attendants each, so the wedding party wouldn’t be too big. His brother is his best man, and his choice for his other two attendants may seem a little strange, since one is in his 60s, and the other is a girl.

We seem to be all about breaking tradition, which is okay with us, even if it involves a little extra work. For example, my blog from December focused on choosing a bridesmaid dress that would work for an attendant who will be seven months pregnant at the time of the wedding. Luckily, I was able to find a dress that I liked and would fit her well. We are working on the attire for the groomswoman, since we haven’t had any luck finding a place that makes or rents tuxedos for women. We’ve looked online, but really haven’t come up with any solutions, so she will probably end up wearing a black pantsuit. I didn’t think that getting a tuxedo for a girl would be so challenging, but it will all work out. We are looking forward to celebrating with our wedding party on the day of the wedding and in the months leading up to it!

Girls

Allison and Lindsay threw me a bachelorette party in February, and we had a wonderful time! They made sure I was decked out in plenty of bachelorette gear, including a lighted tiara, a sash, and a large ring. They also gave me some really cute undergarments. My friend Melissa gave me a great throwback nightgown with the “Saved by the Bell” television show logo on it, and we joked that I would save that for the honeymoon!

Allison and Lindsay planned out a day of tastings at wineries, even though they weren’t able to partake since they’re both expecting. We had a great time at the first winery, and my friend Melissa and I enjoyed tasting the wines they had to offer. The person who did our tasting was funny and personable, and gave me some extra wine and a wine cork! We also met some very nice women who were excited that I was getting married. The second winery we went to wasn’t as fun as the first, but we still enjoyed the tasting, and ate some cheese, crackers, and grapes that Lindsay had packed.

We finished the day by going out to dinner, and then to Dairy Queen for some ice cream. Believe it or not, we were home by around 9 p.m. My bachelorette party was definitely more low-key than the ones we had for Allison and Lindsay, but I think that at this point in our lives, that suits us just fine.

Allison and Lindsay are also throwing a bridal shower for me in March, and I’m really excited to catch up with people I haven’t seen in awhile. I don’t know what games we will be playing or what kind of food we will have, but I know that it will be fabulous. We will be visiting Alex’s brother and sister-in-law for a couples’ weekend in April, and my dad and stepmom are throwing us a couples’ shower in April as well.

It’s wonderful to be supported and loved by our family and friends, and Alex and I look forward to celebrating our wedding with each and every one of them! Party on!

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