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wedding tips

Wedding Tips

Why You Should Never Skimp On Wedding Photography – Southall Eden

March 16, 2011

Let’s face it. Weddings are crazy expensive. I’m all about finding ways to save money, and there are lots of ways you can do so. But if you only splurge on one thing for your wedding, let it be photography. That’s right, I’m a venue owner and a stationery designer and I’m not telling you that your splurge item should not be one of those things, but photography. Why? Because its true!  Chances are you know someone who is a “photographer” and its tempting to hire them for cheap or even have them shoot your wedding as a wedding gift to you to save money, but hear me now and believe me later, DON’T DO IT!!!

Here’s why:

1. You will not get this chance again.

This is your wedding. Hopefully you will only be having one. Isn’t it worth the investment? The #1 regret I hear from Southall Eden brides about their wedding day is that they are not happy with their photos. Don’t be one of them. Besides, when else will all your family and friends be gathered in one place? Probably never, except for at your funeral, and by then you won’t care. My own sister had a very mediocre photographer at her wedding. Within a year, both my grandma and my mom passed away. Those are the last family pictures we will ever have, and they are not good. The value of that now far exceeds the $1,000 or whatever money was saved on the photographer.

2. It’s not just for you, its for everyone who loves you.

Of course your wedding day should be all about your and your fiance, but don’t forget how much time, effort, and money your family and wedding party have put into it as well. They deserve some nice photos to remember the occasion by. But even more than that, think about future generations. Won’t your kids and grandchildren want to see these? What girl doesn’t love seeing old wedding photos of the generations before her? This is the one aspect of your wedding (aside from your marriage itself) that will last forever.

3. A wedding photographer can anticipate what will happen next.

This is why you should not only get a great photographer, you should get a great wedding photographer. The word “photographer” encompasses a variety of people- family photographers, fashion photographers, commercial photographers, etc. Being good at one area doesn’t necessarily mean you are good at another. If you hire someone whose livelihood is shooting weddings, there is a pretty good chance they have done this enough times to not only know where they need to be in order to capture certain moments, but also random things like what kind of light will come through a stained glass window at 5:00 in May, etc.

4. A great photographer can turn an ordinary wedding into an extraordinary wedding.

I have seen this first hand on multiple occasions. A couple is on a tight budget and doesn’t have a lot of money for decor or fancy extras at their wedding. But they hire a great photographer, and lo and behold when you see the photos you would think the wedding cost twice what it really did. The photographer captures everything at its best, and everything that is wonderful about the day, and when you look at your photos you remember your wedding day fondly.

5. If it doesn’t turn out well, you don’t want to have hard feelings with a friend.

This is a big one. If you hire (or ask a favor from) a friend and the photos don’t turn out well, it can seriously damage your relationship. Every time you see that person for the rest of your life you will think of how s/he “ruined” your wedding photos. It may not be intentional, but you will. Its kind of like if they ran over your cat with their car tire. You know its not intentional, but you can’t help but associating them with this one unfortunate act.

So how much does a great wedding photographer cost? This depends on what all is included. Some photographers quote their rates for shooting only, while others quote packages that include both shooting and prints, albums, digital images, etc. When you are researching photographers you should keep this in mind and make sure you are comparing apples to apples with regard to pricing.  That being said, I know a couple of great photographers whose coverage starts around $2,000, but you should not be startled at a base price of $3,500 either. Sure that’s a lot of money, but what you get in return is priceless. How can you argue with that?

Guest post by Southall Eden // Image by Phindy Studios

Wedding Tips

Color Is Our Friend! Embrace It, Brides! – Southall Eden

February 14, 2011

Both as a venue owner and a stationery designer, it is surprising the number of brides I encounter who are either afraid of, or resistant to, using color in their weddings. Like many aspects of wedding planning, choosing a color palette can seem overwhelming at first. Often I hear brides say “We are just going to stick with natural tones,” but in most cases what they are really saying is, “I am scared to commit to a color palette, so I’m just not having one.” This just makes me sad. Color is a wedding’s best friend. If you are capable of making the huge decision to spend the rest of your life with this guy, you are capable of committing to a color palette. Here are some things to remember when trying to get over that scary COLOR hurdle:

“Color palette” does not have to be synonymous with “matchy-matchy”.

I have heard this on several occasions: “I’m not really into the whole ‘matchy-matchy’ look.” OK cool. You don’t have to be. Utilizing a color palette in your wedding decor doesn’t mean that every single detail of your wedding day down to your toenail polish has to coordinate. Think about it like you would think about your wardrobe. You may not be the kind of girl who matches her bag and her shoes every day, but you still try to put together some sort of cohesive look. The same can apply to your wedding. Like Stacey on What Not To Wear says, “It doesn’t have to ‘match’ is has to ‘go.’ If you are afraid of the matchy-matchy syndrome, maybe you pick 6 colors instead of just 2 or 3 so that there are plenty of options at each turn and you end up with cohesion but not matchy-matchy.

Flowers come in colors, not in transparent.

It’s likely that flowers are going to play a fairly significant role in your decor, so give your florist something to work with. I’m no botanical expert, but if you go to him/her and say “We are just using shades of taupes and grays” you are kind of limiting what they can do for you. While all-white flowers can be stunning, adding color can really give your wedding a huge “wow” factor. In most cases a smaller arrangement of brightly colored flowers will add the same amount of drama as a larger arrangement of white/ neutral flowers. And even without being an expert on the cost of flowers, generally speaking I can tell you that buying less flowers is cheaper than buying more flowers ;)

Using a color palette is a FREE way to personalize your event.

Everyone wants their wedding to be special and personal to them. If your friends and family know that you love a certain color, they will be delighted to see that color at your wedding. But even if you use a palette of colors you have never even thought about before in your life, if you use it throughout the event from invitations down to decor details and favors, you will have personalized your wedding. Last year I did stationery for a beach wedding where the color scheme was shades of aquamarine, red, and white . As favors, the couple gave out flip-flops to their guests to wear after the ceremony. Simply by buying all the flip-flops in those colors they were personalizing the gift, even without adding a custom tag.

Color can transform a space.

Especially if you have an indoor venue, you are not working with a completely blank canvas when designing your wedding. You may have wall colors, carpets, etc. to contend with. By having a color palette for your wedding decor, you are essentially saying to your guests “Things in this color palette are part of our wedding.” This can be a good thing if there are permanent design elements in the space that you don’t necessarily love. Your guests eyes will be drawn to the things that are part of your wedding, and away from the things you cannot control. If your wedding is being held in a space where your guests have been many times before, like your childhood church or a popular ballroom, utilizing a color palette will help transform it so that it looks completely unlike the way they have seen it in the past.

If you’re not creative, you don’t have to come up with the color palette yourself.

Your vendors can help. Believe me when I tell you that your wedding planner, florist, and even stationery designer would all be delighted to give you ideas about color. But even just leafing through one of your favorite clothing or home decor catalogs can give you ideas. And of course the online resources are endless. Two of my favorite are The Perfect Palette Blog, and

It’s ok if your fiance doesn’t want to give input on this.

I have spent many an hour of my life in invitation consultations where the bride keeps asking her fiance “Which color do you like best?” and he responds “Whatever you like best, honey.”  And repeat. Finally I jump in and say “If (insert fiance’s name here) felt strongly about this I think he would give you his opinion. Maybe you should take the reins on this one.” The hard truth is that unless you insist that every aspect of the wedding must be Pepto pink, dudes really just aren’t that interested in color schemes. Does this mean that they don’t care about you or the wedding? No. It just means that this is not something he feels strongly about, so if you pick something that makes you happy then he will be happy too. Let him give input on things he has an opinion about, like what band to hire or what brand of bourbon to serve.

The bottom line is DON’T BE AFRAID OF COLOR. Unlike your fiance, you are not marrying the color palette for better or for worse. You are just dating it throughout the course of your wedding planning process. If you decide after the wedding to break up with it and move on to a different palette, then on harm, no foul. It served is purpose and nobody got hurt.

Guest post by Southall Eden // Image by McLellan Style

Wedding Tips

Guest Blogger – Franklin, TN Wedding Venue – Southall Eden

January 31, 2011

How to Control Your Guest List

Congrats to all you happy couples who just got engaged over the holidays! Starting to plan your wedding is such an exciting time. I’m sure one of the first things you’ll realize is that weddings are NOT CHEAP and the more guests you have, the more money you will spend. So, how do you control your guest list so that catering is not eating up (no pun intended) your entire wedding budget? Here are some tips:

1) Be realistic about who you want/need to invite. If you have not seen or talked to the person in two years, you probably don’t really need to invite her, even if you were invited to her wedding 7 years ago. Think about who is important in your life in the here and now, and focus on those people. Nobody wants to offend people, but remember this is YOUR big day and YOUR budget. Don’t feel like you have to invite everyone you have ever been friendly with.

2) Consider having an adults-only wedding. More and more people are doing this, and it really is ok and doesn’t make you an evil person! In most instances, caterers and venues consider a human being one person regardless of age. If you have a limited budget or your venue has a limited capacity, its OK to opt not to invite your co-worker’s 4 year old (who won’t remember or care) so that you can invite another college friend instead. If you do choose to go the No Children route, have family and friends help you spread the word verbally. You will also want to make sure the invitation is addressed to “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” only, and you might consider having your RSVP card say “___ of 2 will attend” so that the couple will understand you are only reserving 2 spots for them.

3) Have you RSVP cards printed with two different RSVP dates. As a stationery designer, I frequently do this for clients. Say your wedding is on October 1st. You send out your first batch of invitations to your family and closest friends in mid July with an RSVP date of mid August. As you receive “No’s”, you send out more invitations, which have an RSVP date of September 1st. It’s a great system that really works, but PLEASE be careful that you do not send Batch A invitations to people who will be talking to Batch B people. That can get really tacky, if you know what I mean.

4) Remember that not everyone you invite will attend. As both a stationery designer and a venue owner, I would say 95% of the weddings I have worked on have turned out to have LESS guests than the couple originally expected. Based on my own experience, combined with some informal internet research, I think its safe to say that usually about 75% of your invited guests will attend. Unfortunately even if 100% want to come, people have work obligations, prior engagements, family commitments, and financial situations that will prevent them from doing so. So even if you’re wanting to invite 300 people, its probably worth it to take a look at a venue with a capacity of 250. Also remember that some people who RSVP that they are coming will end up not showing up (which is totally rude, but that’s another story…) But likewise, you may have a few people show up who did not RSVP.

In summary, remember that this is YOUR day. Of course I don’t advocate being a Bridezilla, but when it comes to the guest list, both space and money make it necessary to make some tough decisions, and you should not feel guilty about it. Now open up those excel spreadsheets and get started!!

image by Phindy Studios

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