Monday, December 30, 2013

Creating a Year of Gratefulness

Over the years I've slowly let go of the tradition of making new year's resolutions, largely because I am someone who tries to challenge myself in all areas of my life throughout the year - as soon as I am enticed by some new activity or goal, I like beginning the journey towards it immediately rather than waiting until some artificially "perfect" start date.

This year has been huge for me in accomplishing some of my biggest life goals - including adopting a compassionate diet, making yoga a regular part of each day/week and coming more in-tune to my true self's voice and desires. But one of the largest transformations I've noticed in myself over the last few years has been my attitude. I will admit that while growing up, almost any activity felt like a chore, and even the idea of having to do something made it that much less appealing. I wouldn't say I always saw the glass as half-empty, but it wasn't until these middle-twenties that I learned how to "do what you love and love what you do".
I've learned that a large part of doing what you love and loving what you do is deliberately changing your attitude and perspective to realize the beauty and joy that can come from the simplest blessings in life. Whether it's an unexpected compliment from your boss, or a friendly conversation with your check-out clerk at the grocery store, these little joys will transform your day and perspective if you let them.

I am proud of Jason and I for already establishing gratitude for these moments as a cornerstone of our family and life together, but I also think that it is something (similar to marriage) that takes daily effort and practice. So I decided to borrow and idea I've seen circulating on Pinterest and Facebook about a gratitude jar for 2014 (sadly I wasn't able to find the actual address where this image below came from so I can't give the original creator due credit):

The idea is to write down little blessings, funny memories or momentous occasions that happen throughout the year, and then go back on the following New Years to read-through and remember all the amazing things that the previous year held.

Step-by-Step How To:
First I went into Microsoft Word and changed my page size to match a 3x5 index card, then created a little sign that would remind us of the little things to document in this jar. I chose to indicate "LOL moments", "God's Presence in our Everyday Lives", "Exciting News", "Unexpected Blessings", "Accomplishments", and "Surprise Gifts":

After looking through our left-over wedding decorations I found a great fishbowl shaped jar that we had used with our candy buffet along with some other supplies: double-sided tape, colored index cards for the blessing notes, my paper cutter and a little votive candle holder to hold the blank blessing notes:

I used the double-sided tape to attach the sign to the jar, cut the colored note cards in half, and then wrote "date:" on each one so that we would remember to put the date onto the cards as we filled up our jar throughout the year:

Then I just place all the little note cards into the votive holder and Voila!

I would always roll my eyes when I heard others say things like, "Life is what you make it" or "It's all what you make of it" but now I see how much happier, exciting and peaceful life can be when you constantly remind yourself of the good things in life. Plus I think this will be a fun tradition to add to our annual new years get together with Jason's family (or even a cute way to collect memories to make a fun scrapbook page for each year with all of our memories and blessings).

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Our Big Day! (and the night before) Part I

No one could have prepared me for the chaos and busyness that the last 4 months created in Jason and my lives between some family health scares, the passing of a beloved family pet, our bachelor and bachelorette parties, my 26th birthday, both Jason and my acceptances into the next steps of our professional educations...oh yeah and our wedding!

Not having a wedding planner really worked for us as I prefer to take on the added stress of being in charge if it means that I get to be aware of all the decisions, plans, etc. that are involved in an event. But the time and effort that pulling those final details together took were much more than I expected. I still don't regret doing it by myself, and had some of the best months of my life leading up to the wedding; but that kind of commitment also meant letting some of my free-time activities sit on the back-burner (one of those obviously being this blog!).

But true-to-form I continued to document every creative project and task leading up to our wedding - so now that I have a nice break before my MBA program begins in January, I have an arsenal full of stories, details and crafts to post about :)


Our Big Day! (and the night before) Part I

Truly one of my and Jason's favorite parts of our wedding celebration was the rehearsal dinner his parent's hosted on the night before our ceremony. There was this amazing peace that settled over me on that day where I realized that everything was done - sure there were still details and questions that could be worried over and talked about - but when it came down to it, I was finally (after 18 months of planning) at a place that I could safely relinquish all control and just enjoy myself!

It also didn't hurt that after our rehearsal were greeted by sixty of our closest family members, friends and out-of-town guests at one of the coziest restaurants in downtown Rome, GA. There was so much anticipation and excitement in the dining room, I don't think anyone could help but join in on the celebration...

While I had zero free-time to spare in those last few weeks before our big day, I decided a few weeks before the rehearsal dinner that I wanted to carve out an evening to design the invitation for this as well. The last year and a half has been filled with reasons to continue my graphic-design projects for various parties, showers and celebrations related to our wedding, but the reality was that these events were soon coming to an end and with the encouragement of my family and friends I realized how special it would be to look back on Jason and my wedding weekend and see that every invitation, insert and special touch was something that I created (I admit it also helped that the perfectionist in me wasn't 100% satisfied with any of the rehearsal dinner invite options available for us to simply order from another designer online).

I've said many times before on this blog that I believe there in a unique opportunity that sending formal invitations out for events has - not only does it excite the recipient by receiving something other than a bill in their mailbox, but it also allows the hosts to set the tone for the celebration. We definitely wanted our rehearsal dinner to be classy and romantic, but more-than-anything we wanted to have a kick-off that would get everyone relaxed for the weekend, provide an opportunity for long-distance friends and family to reconnect and to show everyone on a more personal level how excited we were to have them in town to celebrate with us.

We let the restaurant and delicious food take care of the romance and classiness of the evening, so I took some time to include some personal touches to remind everyone of why we were all there to celebrate, and how they had all been involved and important in our lives up to that point.

We used the sign that my mom had painted for us as a shower gift earlier in the year near the entrance of the restaurant with all of our seating cards. I thought it was a cute touch that hinted at our rustic-theme for the following day (the below picture is from the shower in June - we were a little too busy at the dinner to remember and take pictures of every detail :P ).

The other personal touch (and I know most people's favorite) was the table numbers that I crafted together, using side-by-side pictures of Jason and I at the ages of the table's number (seen below in the middle of my cousins' table):

It was too fun pouring over both my mom and Jason's mom's collections of photos of us growing up, seeing silly similarities between us as kids (like how we both have the crazy three-year-old eyes haha). 

Many people asked about how I found the time, and reminded me of how crazy I was to do it, to create all of these small details for our big day but I tried to remember to tell them all that it never felt like cramming it in, or another to-do item on my list. I have always loved crafting, photos, blogging/writing so it was really such a wonderful excuse to give myself the time to actually do these things again. 

Jason and I both begin classes during the first few weeks in January so I know that life will inevitably become hectic again soon, but I'm hoping today's impulse to post some of our rehearsal dinner details will serve as a reminder to me of how much I enjoy sharing these fun projects with my family, friends and maybe even some random internet surfers via the blogosphere. That's all for today - but keep your eyes out for many more posts as I still have a lot of fun little crafts and projects to go back and share on here :)

And Happy New Year from Jason, Kelly and Mya Mincey! xoxo

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Where in the World Have I Been??

This has been an exciting few months to put it lightly. 

First, the wonderful women on the Hoyt side of my family threw me a fun tea-party themed Bridal Shower back in June – complete with big hats and a very memorable life-size picture of me all dressed up at a birthday party I had ages ago.

As a thank-you present to these wonderful ladies, I decided to make each of the women responsible a set of personalized note cards – which I was especially excited about doing for one of my cousins who is getting married next Spring (and I’m sure will need some new stationary to reflect her new married name) :)

After the shower I took a much-needed beach trip with some of my friends, began (and finished) some online business courses to help with some future career goals, and worked on finalizing all of those hairy last-minute details of wedding planning.

Jason and I are very excited and happy with the final invitations we put together (I got to put my first batch of them in the mail today!) and I’ve gotten to spend some time making fun papery for the events related to the big day, along with others we’ll use to keep things personal and fun at the ceremony and reception.

True to form, I of course won’t be posting any pics of those things until after the big day :) but I’m excited to share them with our loved ones and the online world soon!

Under the advice of my cousins, I also decided to up my branding and start putting my mark on the designs I’ve been making via a simple stamp with my website’s name. 

It's been a crazy few months and I'm so excited for so many of my long-term projects coming together! More to come as I "release" my other designs :)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Some fun designs along the way...

One of the great joys of having a long engagement, especially as a creative person, is the ability to change your mind as your wedding vision shifts and changes with each season’s latest and greatest trends and design schemes. I have mentioned in previous blog posts that my love for stationary design first began with embarking on creating a funky insert for Jason and my Save the Date magnets, and our upcoming wedding has served as a never-ending source of inspiration and motivation for my design ventures.

While we have shown our immediate families a few of our favorite designs that I’ve created for our wedding invitation thus far, we have kept our final wedding invitation design to ourselves as one of the many surprises we hope to excite our wedding guests with during the build-up to our big day. Since Jason and I have made our final decision on which design elements to keep within our final invitation design, I thought it would be fun to show some of you a few of the other ideas I had along the way.

Each of the below was a labor of love, teaching me its own lessons on the wonders of Photoshop and how to stretch my creative eye to fit with elements I had found on others sites that I liked but did not love. Hope you enjoy! 

To check out my online portfolio visit Online Portfolio

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Let Wedding Season Begin!

If you haven’t noticed by the countless facebook statuses and photo albums, wedding season is upon us! And with wedding season comes wedding showers!

Wedding showers are a fun chance for the friends and families of the future married couple to take the scheduling reigns over and treat the happy couple to some parties hosted for them rather than by them.
Whether it’s a small and rowdy get together of close friends, or a large and sophisticated society fete, a wedding shower is all about kicking off the wedding festivities and getting everyone into the spirit of the upcoming nuptials.

 We threw my beautiful friend Alex a fun and festive Monograms & Margaritas shower a few weekends ago, which gave me the fun opportunity to design a loud and bright invitation (something I hadn’t had the chance to do yet) of course in her Alma mater's (UF) colors.

And I was also asked by my aunt to design a tea party shower themed invite for a shower she is hosting for a friend’s daughter later this summer.

I always believe the invite sets the tone for the upcoming celebration, so I was happy to design both of the above to get the excitement of the season of celebrations started!

** If you have an upcoming event you would love to have invitations designed for, please message me at to discuss rates and services; you can check out my growing portfolio of designs at Nothing Like Paper - Online Portfolio

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Your Groom deserves to Look Great on Your Wedding Day Too!

Tux rentals are the norm these days, and in most cases it’s rightfully so. Places like Men’s Wearhouse and Savvi formal wear have perfected the art of getting a group of men all into the same outfit during the same time with little effort needed on the guy’s part – and if you live with or grew up with a man you know that’s a feat ;)

It shouldn’t be surprising that Jason and I were convinced we would also be going down this route when we first started wedding planning. Not only did it sound like the easiest route, but many tux rental companies spend lots of money advertising “specials,” and “deals” to help convince you that this is the most budget-friendly option as well.

But the more research Jason and I did the more we couldn’t help but feel that maybe (while remaining budget-conscious) we wanted to go a different route. The idea of tuxes just felt stuffy, and I was less than impressed with the way run of the mill tuxedos (and especially the vests included) looked on my shorter, broad-shouldered fiancée…

One afternoon in September, two of my girlfriends and I filled empty Arizona Tea bottles with prosecco and orange juice, and waltzed our way into one of Georgia’s many bridal shows held at a local convention center. I came guarded, knowing that this bridal show was more for the laughs and free cake than actually signing my name on any dotted lines. I threw entry cards into a few honeymoon sweepstake boxes and we made a bee-line to the back of the room where all 3 of us could see the big cake table calling our names. But before we could make it to said cake table, we were stopped by a barrage of very enthusiastic, and insistent, men in suits representing one of the many tuxedo rental companies present for the show. While being friendly, these men made it clear that we weren’t making it to the cake until we saw what they had to offer…

Yes, this tux company pulled out all the gimmicky stops and managed to include a giant money booth in their display. I for one was not interested, but after a little nudging, my amazing friend Aimee decided to give the money booth a whirl.

The guys were surprisingly helpful in trying to motion different techniques to her through the walls of how to collect the most money, etc. And by the end of it I was truly impressed at her skills – managing to collect $123 all in single dollar bills, that’s skills people!

A few weekends later, Jason and I waltzed into the tux rental store to bring in our savings sheet and see how great of a deal we had scored. After a long explanation of all that the rental would get us, and an elaborate walk-through of our “massive savings” we were presented with a number. Let’s just say that somehow all of those “massive savings” seemed to disappear once the final total was handed to us.

Even though we were already disheartened, it was our first trip to a tux store for our wedding, so for kicks I allowed the salesman to put Jason in their idea of a “modern cut” tux (which was my 1 request in regards to the guy’s attire) and was, again, less than impressed.

Me being the stubborn deal-finder that I am quickly told the man in the store that we weren’t ready to sign our name to anything, but would happily call back a little closer to our wedding date to get the process started…we never called.

Fast forward to three weekends ago and this time Jason and I decided to go to one of our tried and true stores, Men’s Wearhouse. Jason has rented at least 3 tuxedos through them for other weddings, and has always enjoyed the customer service he receives when shopping there. While I was hoping for a better experience, I still came armed with a firm budget and expectations to present to the lucky salesman who walked our way.

We immediately were surprised at how relaxed, understanding and accommodating the staff was to our needs. After walking in and talking for a while we realized two things that made their sales approach stand out:

  1.       While Men’s Wearhouse rents tuxedos for events, they obviously make a large percentage of their profits on suit sales – which leads them to a more flexible sales approach
  2.       They are also one of the few stores that LOUDLY advertises their buy 1 get 1 free sales (along with whatever special they’re running at the time) – and from our own experience, they are MORE than happy to help you find what you want, put something on hold, and then have you come back when a special is running so that you can really get the best deal for the item you’re interested in

We went into the store thinking that we would more than likely buy Jason’s suit (have it tailored to fit him perfectly, and be able to be super picky about what we wanted) and then find a tux that the groomsmen could rent (to help them save some money). But our salesman offered us an even better option!

In 4 days, the store’s next Buy 1 Get 1 free special began (running for 4 months). If we wanted to pick out a suit we loved for Jason, we could then use that special to get his suit, and all of the groomsmen their own suits for half price! We could also use the special and apply it to the dress shirts and ties for the big day. This means when you crunch the numbers, that all of our groomsmen are buying $350 designer suits (plus the dress shirt and tie) for almost the same as it would cost them to rent a tuxedo for one day!

Men’s Wearhouse Tuxedo Rental
Buying components during B1G1 Free special
Dress Shirt
None provided
Optional; up to $30
$240 - $270

I know that this option isn’t realistic for all couples. That $15 - $45 difference in renting and buying can break some people’s monthly budgets at our age, but for all the men involved in our wedding it made sense. They are all young professionals/students who will benefit from having a suit they look sharp in (and this was something we cleared with each of them before going forward with our plan). We also don’t have to scramble down from Rome, GA to get all of our tuxes returned in a specific time frame which the guys will appreciate that morning after the wedding.

Just to top it all off, because of all the rentals and purchases Jason has had to make through Men’s Wearhouse so far, they gave him a $50 gift certificate to use for any future purchase (which we will gladly be using for his tie, dress shirt and/or shoes however the remaining expenses add up).

If buying a suit is a viable option for you and your groom, I highly recommend it. Every man feels on top of the world in a tailored suit, and this will be a really sentimental thing for Jason to have in his closet for years to come. So do your research, be open to a few options, and give yourself to find an awesome deal like we did! Then your groom can feel as great on your big day as you do J

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

People Will Remember the Negatives more than the Positives...

This week’s topic can be filed in the “lessons I’ve learned” tab rather than the blatantly obvious one. And while it isn't focused on hiring a specific service, it's still a very important lesson I learned of where to spend your money when it comes to a wedding budget.

Many brides know (or have at least heard of) the importance of hiring a good photographer, or the immense benefits of letting someone else do the behind-the-scenes grunt work; but when it comes to today’s post, this lesson is one may have to learn from their own painful experience…

After being a guest at over a handful of weddings the last few years, I have seen and learned the importance of HAVING ENOUGH FOOD!

And I’m talking about pre-dinner food here people.

There is nothing worse as a wedding guest than sitting through a beautiful ceremony, and arriving at a reception all-excited to eat and drink to find no food in sight. I don’t care if your ceremony is 15 minutes or an hour. There is something about arriving somewhere, knowing you will be eating there at some future time that gets your stomach grumbling. And unfortunately we all also know the devastating effects that come from one’s attitude if hunger takes over (have you really not seen the Snicker’s bar commercials? Please do yourself a favor and check out this gem if you haven't:

Try to put yourself in this situation: You can smell the main reception meal either emanating from the kitchen, or sitting in those chafing dishes ready for the buffet, and all you can think is, “When are the bride and groom going to get here for heaven’s sake?” That wonderful ceremony you sat through fades to the background as your mind can now only focus on the sudden moans and bellows coming from your belly. No longer are you in the mindset of love and fairy tales and happiness; you are frustrated and hungry and desperate…

While the above may sound extreme to some, I am one of those lucky people who does quite-literally respond to hunger in the same way as the characters depicted in the Snickers commercials. I can’t think straight, everything is annoying, and I am physically unable to portray anything other than misery on my face. So I of all people should have known the importance of having enough food to nosh on before dinner is served right? Wrong.

In my own efforts to penny pinch, I started on the route of thinking, “Oh, dinner will be served within an hour of people arriving…they don’t need snacks,” and the often-thought, “Well we don’t want to be wasteful with how much food we have…”

But then, for the sake of my future wedding guests, God directed me to a friend’s wedding where the only reply a waiter could give me and my hungry friends was “Dinner will be served soon..." and the lesson immediately hit me.

Unfortunate as it is, in most cases it is much easier to focus on (and even remember) the negative rather than the positive. So no matter how satisfying and delicious your catered food may be for your guests, if they are left standing around hungry before dinner is served, that is more than likely one of the big things they will remember from your big day. And as a future bride, who has already put so much effort and time into ensuring your guests are having fun and enjoying your big day just as much as you are, you owe it to yourself and your hard efforts thus far to include this important part in your pre-wedding plans.

Whether it’s peanuts or canapes, making sure your guests are well-fed from the start of your wedding day through the night is one of the easiest ways to make sure they leave with something wonderful to say - which if you're going to the efforts to create a big day, is what you are really hoping to inspire, isn't it?

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

On that day I will only be the Bride :)

It has admittedly been much longer than one week since my last post in this series, but that’s what happens when life happens.

Since my last post in here Jason has left his previous company, we have moved AND two of our wonderful friends were married, so much has kept me away from blogging. And while I’ve done very little planning for my own wedding, I’ve received the blessing of gaining an even deeper appreciation for a very important aspect of being a bride…

Jason was the best man in, his good friend, John’s wedding this past weekend and being in attendance was a blessing in more ways than one. John and his new wife Courtney are an example of a couple that you know God made exactly for each other. Their differences have humbled each other into truly wonderful people, and when they are in each other’s presence their love and adoration for each other shines. It was such a beautiful wedding to see and be a close part of only months before Jason and I say “I do.”

I also had the IMMENSE blessing of being able to see a wedding take place in the same chapel Jason and I will be married in this November. John and Courtney’s wedding went off without a single hitch (other than Jason fumbling for the rings in his coat pocket – which only he noticed) and I was more than happy to take notes on all of their successes.

From their example this weekend, I learned first-hand the immense help a day-of planner is on your wedding day. John and Courtney’s wedding embodied the ideal mix of relaxation and joy – and this was greatly due to neither one of them (or their families) needing to worry about the wedding day logistics while trying to get ready and enjoy this beautiful day. When Courtney’s hair took an hour longer than expected, no one had to run around to make sure everything else wouldn't be thrown off of schedule. All of this was already being taken care of by their designated coordinator.

From first thought I “knew” I wouldn't be needing any help with the logistics of my wedding day – I was born to coordinate and plan. But the rise in DIY brides has transformed the wedding-planning industry into hundreds of niches of support and help 100% flexible to exactly what your unique needs are as a bride.

So whether it is a pricey, experienced, professional wedding planner or a type-A, organized, long-time family friend who knows how you would like things to be done (which Jason and I are opting for), putting the day-of logistics in someone else’s hands can be the make or break decision that determines whether you get to experience your wedding day as a bride and groom, or as two party hosts feeling the pressure of an event you’ve been planning for the past year. 

As a planner it is hard to put one of the biggest days of my life into another’s hands, but on November 2nd I will not be Kelly Hoyt master planner and coordinator – all I want to be on that day is the Bride :)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Why Hiring a Professional Photographer Is Worth It!

I am excited this week to rely on the knowledge of a good friend for Week Three of “Why Hiring a ____________ is Important!” Alyson Gardner, soon to be Alyson Jarvis, of Alyson Jarvis Photography has been a good friend of mine since high school. Unsurprisingly, she continued the artistic passion that was evident while we were growing up into her twenties, even incorporating this into her career field as an Art Education teacher at Morris Brandon Elementary School here in Atlanta.

Alyson, along with another friend of ours, and I are hoping over the next 12 – 18 months to incorporate our mutual love for all things creative and wedding into a joint-venture wedding-planning group, so I thought this would be a great way for some of my friends outside of our circle to start getting to know her. Both as a future bride and a photographer, Alyson has offered her top tips for getting the most bang for your buck when it comes to wedding photography below. I know that finding the right photographer was a huge relief for Jason and I, and hopefully with Alyson’s from below you will be able to have a similar experience when it comes to your big day, whatever that may be!

Alyson Gardner - 

As long as I can remember, photography was an important factor in my life. I remember “hamming it up” in front of the camera and running around family functions with a toy camera in hand when I was little. It doesn’t come as a surprise that, today, after many years of camera love, I am in the process of starting my own photography company. And even more shocking, when planning my own wedding, photography topped my list of “most important items”. So for you, the savvy bride, here are some tips and tricks when shopping for your big day photographer and why, in some cases, it pays to bend the budget for the photographer.

First, before anything else, define your wedding style. This is much easier said than done. Your style is not just dependant on you and your fiancé’s personalities but also on your date, venue, time, and season of your wedding. For instance, when Greg and I began talking about our wedding, I realized how polar opposite our styles were. He wanted a traditional and elegant wedding, I wanted nontraditional and casual. He wanted winter, I wanted spring, etc, etc. Once we met in the middle, I started looking at photographer’s portfolios for inspiration and direction.

Tip number one: unlike wedding dress shopping, don’t stop looking, even after you’ve booked your photographer!! I looked at hundreds of portfolios. I learned so much from each one and I’m still learning. I hated some, and loved others. There are so many photographers out there with just as many different styles. Never worry about offending a photographer. If you don’t like their style, you don’t like their style and that is okay! Trust me. Just move on until you find one you like. However, here are a few things you need to be on the lookout for in their portfolios, regardless of style.

·         A variety of poses.
o   If you find a photographer who has very similar poses, run away! If something goes wrong or off script on wedding day, you need someone who can work through it.
·         A variety of indoor/outdoor photos
o   Light is key to any good photographer. Outdoor photography is simple in comparison to indoor. A good photographer will know how to work the camera indoors and use what little light they have, even if it means using a flash.
·         Similar style to your wedding
o   If you are having a traditional or conservative wedding, super artsy photographers might not be right for you.
·         Not just the portraits
o   A good photographer will have a variety of details they’ve photographed in their portfolio too. This included ring, flowers, food, etc. You are hiring this photographer to remember your day. They need to be able to capture all of it!

Now let’s pretend that you have narrowed down your selection to your top contenders. Contact them. When reaching out to a photographer and keep it simple! They don’t need to know your entire wedding day plan at this point. Tell them the date of your wedding and ask them for a copy of their contract. Finally, ask if it would be possible to meet up with them in person.

When they respond, print out the contract and read over it. Not skimming over it, reading. All photographers charge differently and request different things too. Here’s what you need to pay attention to

·         Pricing or investment.
o   I have some photographer friends who charge a base fee for shooting during the day of but that doesn’t cover any of the actual pictures you get. You have to pay an extra $5 per photo in some cases. The photographer may seem affordable but when you factor in all the pictures you want, it triples the price.
·         Digital editing time
o   How long is it going to take for you pictures to get back to you? I had a friend who didn’t have this in her contract. It took almost five months for her to get her pictures back.
·         Shooting time
o   How long will your photographer be with you? When Greg and I were looking, this was a huge issue. We are having a Catholic ceremony with an awkward gap of time between the ceremony and the reception. Our photographer is with us for 12 hours and this takes care of it! Some photographers only work for 4 hours or so. You don’t want only half of your wedding on camera.
·         Copyright/Promotion
o   Even though they are “your” photos, they really aren’t. You are only given a limited copyright of the photos your photographer takes of you. Make sure you see if this part is covered on the contract. Do you have the right to post photos online? Print photos? Give the photos to family and friends? Usually your photographer will use your photos for promotion and advertising. Is that alright with you?
·         Any extras
o   Generally these are little requests. In my contract I request a meal and non alcohol drinks. Make sure they are reasonable to you.

If your dream photographer gives you their contract and there are items that seriously concern you, do not cancel your meet and greet. Contracts can be explained, and at times rewritten. However, do not assume the photographer will automatically change something in the contract just for you. Remember, this is their job. You don’t change parts of your job for random people just because it inconvenient for them. But there are usually some items that can be negotiated.

If the photographer of your dreams refuses to change anything about their contract/rates/etc, you are now in a tricky situation: Bend the budget or walk away? My advice is this, if its only bending the budget a bit, do it. Regardless of whether you are a photo junky or not, these pictures are going to be timeless. Everyone in your family will want them, including your possible future children and grandchildren. You spend months planning this day and when it comes, it will be over so quickly. These photos are going to be your reminder of the people who supported you and the day in general. That’s why, for the love of God, do not skimp on your photographer. Hire someone who knows what they are doing!!


Check out Alyson's photography website at!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Why hiring a Design Service for your save the dates is worth it!

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I’ve chosen custom save the dates for the first week of my “Why Hiring A  ________  is Worth It” series. 

Sure, it helps promote my services, but the great response I received from my own personalized save the dates was a large inspiration for offering my design service to others to begin with.

I thoroughly enjoyed creating Jason and my save the date insert, giving a reader’s digest version of our relationship to those we sent ours to, but I never anticipated the amazing response I received from them. And what was really fantastic about the response, was that we spent less than $2 a piece for our save the dates (inserts and magnets). So even more than being excited about how affordable they were to have made, I appreciated their affect more than I knew I would.

I could go on and on about why having your stationery custom made is worth it, so I chose the top 3 reasons why I came to see that spending money on our personalized save the dates was a worthy expense:

1.) Connecting with those guests who may not be well-acquainted with you and your fiancée: Weddings are often a chance for family and friends who haven’t seen each other in a long time to reconnect and celebrate together, which means that it is natural for many people on your guest list to not know how you and your fiancée got together. Even if your love story is simple and sweet, providing all guests with a snapshot of who you are as a couple is a great way for them to feel included and excited about your wedding day, even if they haven’t been there every step of the way leading up to it.

2.) Setting the mood: Using something custom allows you to set the mood and tone for your wedding months before your actual big day. Showing guests your style, theme and/or colors can help build their excitement and anticipation of coming. If they know you’re going for a festive Paris theme, they may get to enjoy the excitement of it all by going out and getting an outfit that’ll go with your night.

3.) Being Queen for the day: Who hasn’t dreamed of having someone walk into their closet and magically provide every piece of clothing you’ve ever wanted? Having custom stationery done provides that same exciting experience. If you wish you would’ve worn a different color dress for your engagement session photos, with the magic of Photoshop your stationery designer can turn that hot pink into a creamy peach. Or if you really like how a certain script appears on your save the date, but the “F” in your beau’s name just looks weird, your designer can offer upwards of 20 different F’s that can be substituted. Your wish is their command.

One of the most fantastic things about having something done custom is you are more-likely to be able to find something you love that you can actually afford, rather than having to settle for what’s already available within your price range. Designers are constantly ordering products from printing companies, which typically leads them to getting special discounts and deals that they can happily use for a client’s order. They’re also familiar with the infinite options of paper, envelopes and other coordinating products you might never have known you could afford!

And having your save the date be something special and personal allows it to be more than a quick post-it note to have people put your wedding date in their calendar. It’s an opportunity to excite, entice and share with those you’re hoping to be there for your big day.