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Lauren Hines is the Founder & Chief DealFinder at Team Get Wed for Less.  You can connect with her on Twitter and Facebook @GetWedforLess.

AlphaBride: The Next Big Thing in Affordable Weddings?

AlphaBride: The Next Big Thing in Affordable Weddings?

On our constant quest for all things fab, fun, and affordable, an ingenious disrupter by the name of Sterlin Barkley came to our local group of wedding professionals.  Sterlin is the founder of AlphaBride.com, an online company that is all about "redirecting the cost of love."  

Here's the quick list of highlights from why I think AlphaBride has great promise in the industry:

  1. Legit Need -- There is a solid niche in the weddings industry to offer event professionals alternative choices to advertising on overcrowded and convoluted websites or buying leads that largely go unanswered.  For example:  AlphaBride will allow enrolled vendors to receive notice when, say, a bride needs videography services.  That video vendor - and others included - can then decide what deal he is willing to offer the bride.  She not only sees his public company info + goods, but she also privately gets to sees the bottom line deal from that video pro.  
  2. Convenience -- Based on the prior highlight, the process should provide some sweet comparisons and convenience for the seeking couple.
  3. Smart -- With the current business model of AlphaBride.com, wedding professionals don't have to pay until they book a wedding. 
  4. Transparency -- Interested vendors will be able to see what discounts are being given by others, so it makes it simpler for them to determine at what rate they can throw their hat in for the intended wedding.  As the great Sherlock Holmes alluded, "The game is afoot!"

At the time of writing this blog post, AlphaBride is in beta mode.  For the non-geek-inclined, it means their tech product is in testing or sampling mode with its target audience.  Sterlin and his team are currently asking for wedding planners in the Atlanta area with interest in learning more to join them at the Atlanta Launch Party; simply email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the subject line: "ABXO - Atlanta Launch Event."  Sterlin, we can't wait to see what comes next!  Keep us posted.  

Alrighty, Bargainistas, Beaus and Pros, please feel free to leave comments and let our crew know if you have any questions!  

Until next time... Happy planning!

Lauren

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GetWedForLess.com Produces Deal-liciously Haute Bridal Extravaganza on Sept 18th!

GetWedForLess.com Produces Deal-liciously Haute Bridal Extravaganza on Sept 18th!

Get Wed for Less is producing its third bridal extravaganza on Sunday, September 18th!  (Please keep reading to redeem special thank you gift below).

Metro Wedding Expo, a division of Get Wed For Less, is going down in less than a month at the illustrious Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center on the campus of the University of Maryland, College Park, from 12-4pm. You won't want to miss the incredible deals, FREE wedding dress giveaways courtesy of St. Anthony's Bridal, celebrity photographer photo opps, and fantastic bites and libations being dished out from the best of the best right in the DMV (that's DC, Maryland, and Northern VA for those who are not "urea"-conscious). 

We will welcome event savants and the host of the finest brides and grooms the DMV has to offer (yes, true words!)  There will be an abundance of local fave Creatives and Tastemakers to wow your socks off at #MWE (check out which local favorite wedding professionals are already confirmed to be in the house on Sept 18th here).  Get there early to catch the glam bridal gowns rocked during our Haute Runway Show -- sure to impress the most discerning of brides!  

As a special thank you for being a getwedforless.com subscriber, we would like to give you $10 off your ticket (that's almost free, friends!).  Redeem online through metroweddingexpo.com, click on Tickets, and enter promotional code GETWEDFORLESS. (You will find the place to enter your discount when you click on "Enter promotional code" directly under the ticket options).

Visit www.metroweddingexpo.com for additional event and exhibitor info (major exhibitor reveal specials are ending very soon and space is limited). It's not too late for your company to be in the spotlight! 

We hope you'll join us, and as always, Happy Planning!

Team GetWedForLess.com and the #MWE2016 Squad

 

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Cricut's Got Serious Swank - You'll Love This DIYers & Designers

Cricut's Got Serious Swank - You'll Love This DIYers & Designers

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking through my links.

On my quest to discover + share all things fabulous, fun and affordable, I found serious swank in Cricut… and it awakened major craft-inspiration!  Now I know why this is a not-so-secret addiction for both the DIY crafter and the creative professional.

Fall leaf design cut on vinyl by Cricut red and gold

If you’re like me, you like to find a #hack wherever you can!  This inspiration-loving designer’s hack is acclaimed as the fun-to-use machine that allows you to easily make pretty décor, personalized gifts, and gorg cards.  According to fans far and wide, the Cricut Explore Air™– Cricut's uber popular electronic cutting machine, is the best on the market.  It’s versatile, intuitive and oh-so-precise. It's also surprisingly super affordable, especially since Cricut deeply discounted the cost by hundreds of bucks on the machine and bundles — just in time for the holidays and your special occasion!  #Winning

How Does Cricut Work?

Cricut precision red abstract image

The Cricut Explore Air™ lets you to cut a plethora of material, including cardstock, fabric, plastic, vinyl, and leather (and dozens of others). The company shared, “The Explore Air also features Cut Smart™ technology, which allows you to cut a wide range of shapes and sizes with exceptional precision, from ¼" [to] 23½" tall.  I love that the innate Air tech gives you Bluetooth capability allowing you to design/create and print anywhere from within the free Cricut app wherever you have a wireless connection.

Teacup paper design cut by Cricut crafter

Until next time…

Happy plan…err… crafting!

Lauren

P.S. A parting gift from Cricut: Get free shipping on all orders at Cricut with code FREESHIPNOV

Copyright

© Images credit: Cricut.com

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Lessons from the Cake Boss Buddy V.

Lessons from the Cake Boss Buddy V.

It was great meeting a modern-day culinary legend Buddy Valastro, most commonly known as The Cake Boss.  The Cake Boss, in some random case you don't know, is a hit reality TV series on TLC highlighting incredible edible art and cake engineering feats that makes millions of viewers each season (and customers of Carlo's Bakery) keep coming back for more. Meeting Buddy V. came with a great share of appreciation for the man behind the scenes.  Enjoy this fun piece with great insight from the Boss of All Cakes!

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Photo credit:  Get Wed for Less LLC

Never too successful to be able to relate.

Many "successes" lose touch with reality and become less helpful to those they are to serve once they reach a certain height.  I just listened to a clip in which 2016 Presidential Candidate Donald Trump said he had a "small loan" of $1 million from his father to start investing... in Manhattan!  Talk about out-of-touch!  (Here's the clip: http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/26/politics/donald-trump-small-loan-town-hall/)   

Sorry, Don, most of us can't relate.  I love that Buddy V. talked candidly about how he did the bridal shows, advertising in magazines and everything he could to make a name for himself.  Now, he's the Cake Boss and still super relevant to the hungry entrepreneur... maybe because he didn't start out with a small $1 million injection? 

Not everyone will be your biggest fan.

Buddy V. has millions of fans watching him and his crew on TV and following him on social media and online.  I loved hearing him say, "One of the most important things [to know is] you're not going to make everyone happy."  Gosh!  How many of us are recovering people pleasers or somehow pride ourselves on bending over backwards for, quite honestly, the undeserving host.  Well, it was a breath of fresh air to hear from one so well-loved, so "arrived," that this is a critical key to remember.  Be true to your brand, pros out there! 

Boss?  Always.  Savant?  Meh... Maybe Not.

Hitting on the realness and humility of The Boss, he commented, "Everybody always knows something more than we do."  "Everybody?" Yes, everybody.  Some of us are afraid to ask for help - been there!  We can't go it alone because as much as we try to be "know-it-alls," we don't know everything and trying to be the Jack/Jill of All Trades ends up hurting us and our businesses in the process.  He continued, "Surround yourself with A+ people.  It allows us to do a better job.  

I love the quote, "Everyone is superior in that I may learn from him."  There is always a lesson to glean.  Buddy V. reminded me once again during our session.

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Photo credit:  Get Wed for Less LLC.  Event:  Your Wedding Experience, Atlanta.

Until next time...

Happy planning!

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David Tutera Talks Wedding Trends, Dishes Advice

David Tutera Talks Wedding Trends, Dishes Advice

Our event of the summer had to be David Tutera's inaugural wedding experience event, marking his triumphant entrance into the bridal show arena.  Buddy V, The Cake Boss, was there, too, and we know why America loves him!  There were quite a few golden nuggets we took away from listening to Mr. Tutera himself.  Here, we'll give you our Top 3 Tutera Trends-n-Tidbits!

1) On Creating a Wedding Uniquely You

David mentioned that he always hears from brides that they want their wedding to be unique.  However, as he listens to them explain their vision, it's usually the same boring stuff!  David encouraged the wedding pros sitting in on this catwalk-side chat to really present some out of the box ideas.  How about you have the reception BEFORE the ceremony?  What we got from this segment: Think differently if you want something different from the norm and don't be afraid to try something new - as long as it's YOU!

2) Real Deal on Room in the Budget for Fabulous Story-Telling

He said what really makes a wedding "successful" is to tell the couple's story.  David's words shocked me when I heard him say it.  He said that he can tell the same story with a wedding budget of $30,000 as one with a budget of $1,000,000!  Of course,  $30K is the lower end for Mr. Tutera's repertoire, but, alas, that's great news!  Interestingly, this made me think of one of my favorite chefs in Miami.  Chef Eric's brand drew me in because he focuses on just that - telling the story of the couple in love through how he showcases everything from the setup to the food design.  

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Photos Credit (L and R):  Healthy Gourmet Miami, RSVP Events Miami

3) Battle Royale:  Sparkles v. Lace

If you're like me, then you have been seeing lace at every turn... on more than just wedding dresses.  Well, according to Sir David, his bridal line Mon Cheri was talking lace four years ago!  Sir David said out with the lace and in with the sparkles for wedding dresses!  This world-renowned trendsetter in all things wedding told us Mon Cheri is designing and showcasing "sparkling, more glamour, plunging" necklines.  We also noted subtly plunging sweetheart necklines on a couple of his bride models as they walked about Your Wedding Experience.  Needless to say, I loved seeing the gown on my fave summer bride Jessica shown here; I let her know, "David would be proud!" *Wink Wink*

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All in all, the "Wedding Experience" was wonderful.  It tastefully captured the Tutera brand, allowed many of us to get a foretaste of bridal trends, and connected me with some phenom fellow pros in the wedding industry.  Do you have any "events of the season" you would like to share with us?  If so, please leave comments below - we would love to hear from you!  

Until next time... Happy planning!

Lauren

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She's Got the Cake: An Interview on Wedding Cake Trends with Maria Velasco

She's Got the Cake: An Interview on Wedding Cake Trends with Maria Velasco

This week, I had opportunity to connect with Maria Velasco, the expert cake baker and designer and owner at Once Upon A Cake in Alpharetta, GA.  Satisfying sweet orders for decades, Maria has trained under the best in the industry and was a winning contestant in the North Georgia Cake Challenge. Maria speaks with us here about popular cake trends, the raging "naked cake," and how she got her start in baking.  

-- All photos are used courtesy of Once Upon A Cake.

GWFL:  How did you get started baking?

Maria:  Growing up, my mother never baked. I had a friend named Lisa, and I when I went over to her house, her grandmother was baking.  I found it so fascinating and just started baking!

GWFL:  Very cool.  Tell us, what are the most common trends in wedding cakes you're seeing these days? 

Maria:  Cupcake towers are very popular as well as rustic cakes like the "naked" wedding cake.  Burlap is big.  Brides are adding more color to their wedding cake.  One bride wanted yellow and grey on her cake.  Another wanted a purple cake.  When you add in color to the wedding cake, it adds that pop - it's phenomenal!  I just love that.

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GWFL:  What are the most common requests you get?

Maria:  A lot of brides are liking more intricate piping work on their cakes, like the Lambeth Method, which is a really intricate one.  Simple scrolls are not enough anymore.  Some brides go crazy and want like a science fiction cake or even an upside-down cake.  Anything goes now.

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GWFL:  That's very true - people are becoming less and less traditional.  Emily Post used to be the turn-to for most brides; now they want to go against the grain.

Maria:  Exactly!

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GWFL:  Naked cakes... they seem to be all the rage right now.  Professional bakers have been making them for quite some time, but this year, they seem to be taking off.  Tell our readers, what are "naked cakes" exactly and why do you think brides are loving them?

Maria:  Naked Cake is a rustic kind of country cake that doesn't have any icing on the outside.  There is filling between the layers, usually three or four layers in the cake and usually filled with butter cream.  It is decorated with fruit or flowers.  Not only is it great because it has less sugar, but in rustic settings, like a barn or woodsy venues, which is especially popular here in Georgia, it goes perfectly.  It's great for a country wedding and beautiful when topped with fruit or flowers.

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GWFL:  Do you have any suggestions on how to keep naked cakes fresh?

Maria:  After you bake it, wrap it up and leave it wrapped overnight to keep it moist. The cake is fresh because you fill it and decorate it the day of the wedding. 

GWFL:  Tell us about Once Upon A Cake's Naked Wedding Cake Giveaway.  How did you come up with it?  Do you need to be based in a certain area to enter the giveaway?

Maria:  Yes, wedding has to be based in Georgia.  We can up with it because we say it was a popular trend.  The cake is rustic, it's charming, and we wanted to give one away.  The details are on the site.  The bride with the most romantic story wins the cake. (Visit http://www.onceuponacake.net/contact-us.html to enter for your chance to win, Georgia brides and grooms).

GWFL:  How fitting that you're giving the cake away to the most romantic or fairy tale style wedding with the name "Once Upon A Cake!"

Maria:  Yeah! We're romantics over here!

GWFL:  I could tell when I met you and your husband years ago.  You could tell he loved his Maria!

Maria:  (Laughing) Yes.

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-- Connect with Maria >> You can email, call or text Maria at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (770) 654-9757.

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#BeatSolange Contest!

 
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The Unbeaten Path to Wedding Day Savings

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Season's Greetings, Friends!  

The 2013 holiday season is still going strong, and we're just days away from the New Year!  Many of us are enjoying lots of needed time with loved ones and are already taking way too much [insert your fave holiday cryptonitreat here] down the hatch.  Warm memories and cherished traditions invoke the nostalgia that magically comes this time of the year. One of my heartfelt memories took place this very holiday six years ago the love of my life popped THE question. The exuberation I experienced in that moment was nothing like ever before. Within weeks, I was in wedding planning mode!  If you're like me, I was reading any and everything wedding that I could get my hands on - eventually becoming overwhelmed. 

These sentiments led me to unpack the next series: "The Unbeaten Path to Wedding Savings." I wish I had had a resource like this series during the midst of planning my wedding. As our gift to you, your bargainista team at GetWedforLess.com will be collaborating with highly respected industry experts over the next few weeks on how to curb costs - without compromising quality - on each of the big wedding expenditures (venue, catering, dress, honeymoon, etc).

We hope you enjoy a very merry holiday season!  May it be a time of appreciation for what has been, what is, and what you hope the future to be. 

Happy celebrating!

Lauren & Your Bargainista Crew

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The Wedding Dress Crunch! - How to Get Your Dress with Less than 5 Months to Spare!

Photo credit: Brittany Marie Photography

It’s (t) - 5 months ‘til your big day (or much closer), and you’re wondering, “How in the world am I gonna “Say Yes to the Dress” in time?!”  Lucky for you, Team Get Wed for Less has come to the busy, bargainista bride’s rescue!  We’ve also consulted the wedding savant sisters over at Kreative Sentiments, a DC-based wedding planning company, for suggestions they share with their brides.

Online Winner for the Dress Crunch

Our favorite online resource for low-price, designer gowns in a jiffy is PS Bridal out of the great US of A.  With a 100% satisfaction and lowest-price guarantees, these pros are known worldwide for their impeccable service and expansive inventory, which caters to brides of every figure (sizes 0-32+). They even allow you to ship overnight and offer helpful options if your fave gown isn’t in-stock but still needed ASAP.

Local Dress Crunch Recommendations

Kimberly & Kelley Smith, the dynamic duo at Kreative Sentiments, recommend “purchasing a gown ‘off-the-rack.’” This way, you can avoid the likelihood of not having your gown in time.  You see, the gowns you’d traditionally order from a bridal boutique typically take months before they’re finished being sewn and delivered.  Furthermore, altering your gown upon arrival can take additional weeks before your gown is aisle-ready.  

Here are a few go-to spots to find gowns off-the-rack suggested by the savvy sisters at Kreative Sentiments:

  1. J.Crew (online only) - Notably a GetWedforLess.com favorite for the whimsical, graceful bride, we were happy to see J.Crew made the Kreative Sentiments list, too.

  2. White House | Black Market has a solid selection of tea-length dresses for the unique-chic bride.

  3. Local consignment shops

  4. Seamstress - “A good seamstress could potentially have a fitting and sew a dress in a four-month time period,” noted Kimberly Smith.

  5. Nordstrom, while more on the pricey end, carries lots of gorgeous in their nationwide locations with Wedding Suites.

  6. David’s Bridal often has gowns off-the-rack and sometimes this popular option can do a rush order.

A Word to the Wise:  Don’t discount thrifting, my friends!  Plenty of consignment shops sell only luxury and premium brand clothing that have either barely been touched or were never used.  

Just remember, when you do find that gown - thrifting or not - it may need to be altered, so add some wiggle room for likely alterations into your timeline.

Until next time… Happy planning!

Friends:  Do you have a great way that you found your wedding dress in a crunch?  Please share with your fellow readers!

Photo courtesy of Kreative Sentiments Inc.

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Military Couple Wins LIVE 'Wedding of a Lifetime'

Military Couple Wins LIVE 'Wedding of a Lifetime'

At first glance, J. LeVar & Nyoka Bryan appear to be your everyday working couple with two adorable kids, but when one digs a little deeper, a story of inspiration to defy all odds is discovered.  T. Rose International Bridal Shows heard their story while on the hunt for a couple to whom the company and generous vendors would give a live, "Wedding of a Lifetime." Nyoka and J. LeVar shot to the top of the list.

"I had a crush on Nyoka since our eighth grade science class," admitted J. LeVar, techie, business-savvy husband and dad of the Bryan home in Atlanta, GA.  Much to his dismay, Nyoka never let it go beyond the "friend zone."  Then, when she joined the US Army immediately after high school and was deployed to Iraq, J. LeVar thought for sure all hopes for his long-awaited romance were out the door.  Then, 2006 and a phone call came.

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Surprise Pinterest Wedding: One Couple's Inspirational Tale

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Photo credit: Meshali Mitchell Photography

For many of us, a conceived thought remains just that - an idea with little to no action following. This is not the case for one Prince Charming who resolved in his heart to give the love of his life the surprise of her lifetime… enter Ryan + Amanda.

“I overheard Amanda say it was her dream to get engaged and married on the same day,” recalls Ryan.  This was almost two years ago when the groom heard his lady express this to a friend.  Ryan got inspired.  When he found Amanda’s Pinterest page, he struck the personalized “wedspiration” jackpot!  Amanda had her “Dream Wedding Day” all pinned up!

Recent Comments
Mark Smith
Hi- This was a very cool wedding and video! We had 2 girls get married in 2 weeks! Lydia, married Ben Rexroth. They were marr... Read More
Monday, 21 October 2013 13:08
Lauren
HOW EXCITING, MARK! Busy indeed! We'd be happy to do a blog post for the couple - we love Real Weddings and fun stories we can s... Read More
Thursday, 31 October 2013 19:37
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The Event Planner’s Secret Weapon!

I think it’s safe to say we entered the event planner’s hidden vault with this find. Just a week ago, we uncovered two savvy apps for event planners.  Then, PerfectTablePlan’s Andy Brice shared a splendidly simple, smart, and cost-effective way to create event seating plans with us.  

    PerfectTablePlan Sample Wedding Layout:

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Here’s our "Top 5 List" of PerfectTablePlan's highlights:

  • 1) Import guests from spreadsheet and personalize with ease (meal preferences, status, age, and other helpful seating 411)

    2) Detailed seating proximity preferences come in quite handy when you have two guests who need to be seated together - or those two who should be as far away from each other as possible.  Using PerfectTablePlan’s nifty Jolly Roger icon (you know, that pirate skull with crossed bones image?) tells the software Uncle Joe and Uncle Bobby need to be seated at opposite poles and places them in safe zones on the layout.

    3) User-friendly templates for easy creation of escort or place card and organized guest lists and seating assignments within the software

    4) Budget-friendly cost puts it within reach of most bridal budgets (runs under $30 for the one-time software download for Mac or PC)

    5) Free email support (They've been quite the responsive team)!

Through the software, we noticed how literally hours of seating layouts can be shaved off and seating layout and formatting headaches evaded.  We look forward to seeing what other updates the pros at PerfectTablePlan come up with.  If you’d like a sweet, limited-time deal on the download of the Home Edition of the software, follow this exclusive GetWedforLess.com link for your copy: http://www.perfecttableplan.com/html/purchase_with_coupon.html?coupon=GetWedForLess.  

FYI: The 25% discount for our readers is good until October 20, 2013.

Until next time… Happy planning!

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Two Apps for Savvy Event Planning

In our hunt for "all things fun, fabulous, and affordable" in the wedding industry, I checked into a local DC Tech Meet-up last night. There were tons of stellar apps and tech sites demo'd by some serious #TechInnovators.  One that shined particularly brightly was SocialTables (socialtables.com), a dynamic tool widely used by event pros and hotels.  

Working with floorplans, SocialTables seamlessly lays out event spaces on a user-friendly platform.  Let your imagination run wild here, planners and brides!  You can set a ballroom or expo space to fit exactly to your specs, organize seating arrangements by guest name, and even throw in needed registration/greeting tables or booths, furniture, and more into the space.  If that weren't enough, SocialTables creates a 3-D walk-through model of your environment.  How cool is that?

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Photo credits, in order: Boston Event Planning/Corinthian Events, Tech.co, SpecialEvents.com

With the user capabilities, the massive saving of time and energy, ease of use, and a multitude of options for space design and seating, SocialTables is a gem I'm sure glad was discovered on the hunt for all things awesome.

Honorable Mention:

We'd be remiss if we didn't mention one app to keep on your radar, planners.  SurveySnap (survey-snap.com), headed up by Ryan Sears, is a customizable web platform that allows users to collect info on a site and create layouts of the entire building. More capability is being built out for wedding and event planners since the current, dominant user demographic is comprised of engineers and architects.

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Until next time... Happy planning!

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From Drama to Dream: One Bride's Victory

This weekend, one of my "girls" got married. I say girls quoted because I never gave birth to her; in fact, she is only a few years my junior. Nonetheless, she is my girl - someone who was gifted to me from God to share life with, to shed tears with, to literally laugh out loud with. 

On Friday, she went from a "Miss" to a "Mrs.," and I am overcome with sentiment. Sure, call it girly - it's all good. It feels right to have someone for whom you can feel all warm inside because her journey (that you know so well) and her future (that you imagine and have great expectations for) bring you exceeding joy. 

Getting to marriage is not a walk in the park, and it wasn't easy for our girl. In fact, forces from all over were coming together like Armageddon! It can be downright ugly. Just because the path isn't easy doesn't mean it wasn't destined to be! Without going into a litany of occurrences, my dear friend endured some family battles, last-minute vendor and familial reneges, disagreements on the vision for the wedding, tears, and her fair share of mind games to overcome. She came to realize that marriage - or even getting to the wedding day itself - is not about some fairy tale, but it's about journeying through life with that someone who "for better or for worse" would devotedly write the tale alongside her with unconditional love. 

The rewarding part of the drama is that she didn't have to go it alone. Her faith and encouragement from her beau and loved ones kept the ship moving forward!  Now, she stands gracefully as a "Mrs." stronger than she was, more determined, and focused.

Today, I pray a blissful, spicy, lovingly epic romance for you and the love of your life, my Whit. 

 XOXO,

Lauren

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Top 10 Reasons Why NOT to Use GetWedforLess.com

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Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries on their wedding day - two-and-a-half months before the divorce. (Photo credit: Albert Michael, startraksphoto.com).

1) You'd rather spend a "cool" 6-figures on your dream wedding because spending a lot of extra money helps you "keep up with the Joneses" and "Kardashians." (Ummm... never mind)

2) You like the idea of spending hundreds of hours researching vendors on your own. 

3) You don't like knowing current pricing and offerings from vendors ahead of time. 

4) You'd rather let your wedding be a vendor's test subject.

5) Why go the easy route?  Stressing out seems fun. 

6) You still believe Uncle Sam won't be able to catch you when you write off your elaborate celebration.

7) You just have tons of free time. 

8) You'd rather search through 30+ pages of vendors on other websites without the info you really want or need.

9) You prefer vague, elusive content that's not easily accessible. 

10) You don't like awesomeness!

OK, friends, thanks for indulging us; of course, you wanna use GetWedforLess.com and spread the word!  Here's why:  About Us

Happy planning, & thanks for joining!

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The Ultimate Wedding Checklist & Timeline - Part III (8 Months)

Thanks for joining us!  Today, we unveil what to check off your list at the 8-month mark from your wedding day.  One of our fave wedding planners and feature bloggers Jeffrey Brown gives advice on accommodation booking, we chat more about your wedding dress, and we start getting your wheels turning for unique wedding registries.  Enjoy!

8 MONTHS from Your Wedding Day

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Photo credit: VESA Photography

If You Haven't Already... Buy Your Gown!

Your gown can take up to 6 months to receive depending on your salon and manufacturer/seamstress.  Alteration time should also be accounted for, so give yourself a comfortable, stress-free window for needed adjustments.  8 months is the minimum lead time recommended by most professional planners and bridal dress boutiques for ordering your wedding gown.

 

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Photo credit: Crystal City Marriott, VA

Block Hotel Rooms

Jeffrey Brown, owner and lead planner of JaiLynn Events in Washington, DC, lets his brides and grooms know that blocking hotel rooms and locking in prices for out-of-town guests are important tasks to complete at the 8-month mark.  

He also advises, “Book a suite for you and any bridal party members the night before if staying.  Also, remember to book a suite for you and your groom the night after your BIG day.  Have your room and bridal party separate from out of-town guests and away from the groom’s room if he is staying there, too.”

This would all be in vain if our folks don't book on-time, so be sure to let critical guests know what accommodations are available to them ASAP - and definitely in the wedding invitation and/or website.  

 

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Set up Your Gift Registry

Nowadays, there are a plethora of options for gift registries.  You may opt for the popular wedding registry route, utilizing registries from hot spots like Target or Macy’s, or you can mix it up a bit!  Today, brides and grooms are opting for honeymoon registries in which your guests contribute financially to your romantic getaway.  Some philanthropic couples have elected cause-based gifting by allowing guests to donate to a meaningful charity, mission, or other non-profit in lieu of (or in conjunction with) the couple’s personal gifts.  It’s your wedding - get creative!  

Regardless of the registry path you choose, I also recommend using a universal wedding registry system, like MyRegistry, that allows you to add gifts from any website - even big buying outlets like Amazon - in one convenient location.

Until next time... Happy planning!

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So Diamonds Are Not a Guy's Best Friend... There's Still Hope for the Diamond Hunt

Recently, I asked a groom-to-be about how he felt about the diamond and engagement ring hunt.  His intial response was two words:  "A headache."  After a bout of laughter and shaking his head, he continued to talk with candor, giving advice to the fellas, "But if you are gonna search, understand women don't really know what they want, and in actuality they really don't care about some of the details. They care about the fact that you are taking that step."  

That was a great note on which to start our segment today.  Women care that you desire to take that next step with them!  Still, how do we help alleviate some of the "headache" that accompanies the ring-finding expedition for so many?  Here's our what, how, and where of the treasure hunt with focus on value + affordability.  Make sure to catch the end to know where to start your search - it's not the mall!

Credit: Gemological Institute of America

Here the quick-and-dirty on something you may have heard about - the 4Cs of diamonds.  The world's foremost authority on diamond ed - the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) - coined the phrase "the 4Cs," which represent Carats, Color, Clarity, and the ever-critical Cut.  A combination of these facets (along with the metal chosen) will determine the price of the ring.  

1)  Carats are the standard for measuring the weight of a diamond - bigger the diamond, typically the higher the price tag. Don't get caught up too much in the stone size, a diamond that may be just under a carat can look bigger pending on the cut and the quality of the stone itself is enhanced beyond size when other indicators of stone quality are in play...

Credit: JewelryDays.com

2)  Color. Unless you are clearing purchasing a canary yellow or a rose diamond - or some other color-identifiable stone, the term "color" means the absence of color.  The less yellow, the higher the quality of the stone. Good news!  The slight color variance is not generally visible to the naked eye, especially when buying stones from jewelers focused on delivering quality for price.  

GIA color grading scale

3)  Clarity tells you have clear a diamond is with the emphasis on the amount of imperfections, commonly known as "inclusions" and (outer) "blemishes."  A well-cut stone will be smooth outside, but many diamonds are "included."  The less inclusions, the higher the value and cost to you.

Diamond clarity chart

Credit: Isbell Jewelers

4)  We've come to the final C: Cut.  Most people mistakenly think the cut refers to the shape into which the diamond is "cut," but it really refers to the overall layout and proportion. The great indicator of a stellar cut is how much light enters the diamond.  A great cut delivers that "bling" effect and brilliance that really makes eyes widen.  Don't overlook the least understood of the 4Cs: it's the workmanship that makes the ring sing.

Diamond cut explanation

Credit: Isbell Jewelers

Where to Go Treasure Hunting & Buy Below Retail

Advice from my hubby?  "Never pay retail!"  Try these online spots for great gems at pricing that won't cause you to miss your mortgage payment: Apples of Gold (40% off retail, the site features a satisfaction guarantee) and Amazon.  Make sure to read up on guarantees as these sites have customer return policies.  Also, look into your city's best pawn shops - for real!  Many times, these places have antique rings (vintage is all the rage right now) and tremendous finds on some really great sets!  You typically can get bigger stone size and value at these spots for a substantially lower price since it's the goal to move inventory ASAP. 

TIP:  If you can't bring along one with a trained eye for diamonds, grab a professional eye loupe to take with you to the non-run-of-the-mill diamond storefront or to use on the diamond you order.  Eye loupes are scopes for checking diamond quality, and they're literally a couple of bucks.  These are helpful for seeing the inclusions and testing absence of color.

Image: Eye Loupe

TIP #2:  Protect that Bling!

Too often, our valuable possessions become lost or stolen.  Check with your home/renter's insurance agency to find out how loss of your purchase may be covered within your policy.  Consider other proactive measures, such as appraisal and diamond laser inscription.

Feel free to deliver any other 411 you feel will be helpful for those on the diamond hunt out there.  Remember:  It's not about finding the most expensive ring; it's about the two of you being the best for each other as you resolve to "take that next step."

Until next time... happy hunting + planning!

P.S. For inquiring minds, here are the most common diamond shapes...

diamond-shapes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Credit: Deliver Me Diamonds

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How To Make Swagalicious, Affordable Candy Buffets - Part II

We sent a couple hundred people home on a sugar rush this weekend.  It's safe to say our candy buffet was a hit! 

We had the honor of being a sponsor for a bridal show in Washington, DC.  Not only did we meet some of the most fun brides-to-be on the planet and some incredible wedding pros, we also got to unveil the much anticipated (OK, maybe just in our minds) Get Wed for Less candy buffet!

    

So how'd we finish it off?  In Part I of making swagalicious and affordable candy buffets, we signed off sharing tips on goodies and embellishments, so next was safely transporting all the containers to the site.  If you have to transport breakable items, make sure to use packing peanuts, paper, or bubbles to avoid breakage.  Keep your meltables cool!  If you are dealing with warm outdoor temps while en route to your destination and packing up the vehicle, keep the goods in the refrigerator as long as possible; then, put them in the car when you're leaving.  If you have a long drive ahead, keep the meltables in the air-conditioned vehicle or use ice packs. 

Upon arrival to the hotel, our intern and I carefully loaded items on our trolley and rolled 'em in.  We arranged our green chevron-printed table runner on the covered buffet table first.  Next, we set up our $9.99 floral bouquet (from Trader Joe's) in its ribbon-embellished vase in the rear-center of the table. We positioned the containers, staggering the taller ones in the back (see image above to get a feel for the layout - some things are just better explained with a visual).  Then, we poured in the goods (alternating the greens and deep pinks between the containers as much as possible), laid out the other tabletop items, and stuck the clear mini (dollar store) tongs into the candy.  

Lastly, don't forget to take a step back and look at your design!  Do you need to switch up a couple dishes?  Are the containers full enough?  My final tip would be to ensure your reserves are close by!  You will need to keep refilling to keep guests happy *smile* and for that continuous presentation appeal.  

We hope you have as much fun as we did making and dishing up our candy buffet!  If this two-part series can help another, please pass it along.  For more pics from the bridal show, check out our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/getwedforless.

Until next time...

Happy planning!

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What's Our Story?

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There’s no such thing as a dumb question...

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How many of you have heard this before?  We all have classroom memories of that kid who’d say, “That was so DUMB!” usually after a well-meaning student asked his teacher a question.  Well, when it comes to planning - and paying for - your wedding, there are no dumb questions!  When conducting business with potential vendors, ASKING IS KEY! 

Today, Jeffrey Brown of JaiLynn Events is hooking our readers up with critical topics to hit before you book a wedding professional or venue! If you have already booked vendors, make sure you know their answers to relevant items on this list.

Jeffrey Brown:

“When shopping for vendors, ask questions - no matter how silly they may seem.

    • - Get everything in writing - EVERYTHING!
    • - Know cancellation and postponement policies.
    • - What are the fees if changes are made after the initial contract is drawn?
    • - What are delivery and set-up charges (if applicable)?
    • - Know guidelines for returning rental items.
    • - Get primary contacts from each vendor, and try to always use those people.
    • - Discuss alternate ideas and less expensive alternatives (if possible).
    • - Confirm deposit amounts, payment options, and the date final payment is due."

Posing these questions will help you avoid potential hiccups and lead you to some very practical, educated decisions, so ask, ask, ask! 

Until next time... Happy planning!

P.S. Thanks, Jeff!  

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