Monthly Goals: October 2015

Monthly Goals October 2015.jpg

Happy October, friends! October is the start of my very favorite time of the year (everything from October and its pretty Fall vibes all the way through New Year's Eve.) October is also going to be the busiest month of my year (which is an accomplishment considering that I moved to a new state just a few months ago.) I'm SO excited for all the things happening this month, though! They're things I've been waiting for and anticipating for months, so I know it's going to be great!

Full disclosure, September was a weird month and I didn't get most of my goals accomplished. Michael and I were talking on Monday about what a weird month September had been for us, though neither of us could completely nail down why it was so weird. A lot of good things happened in September, but none of them were exactly what we had planned. Oh well! I'm trying not to sweat it because the most important stuff got done, and it's not worth stressing over the things that fell by the wayside. People and clients were taken care of and that's all I can ask for some days.

Last Month's Goals

  • Start pulling details together for the Big Fake Wedding. Yes! So excited for this event!
  • Periscope more. This one didn't happen. I would always think about it at odd times.
  • Take the results from my reader survey and create even more valuable content for all of you! Thank you so much to those of you who filled it out! One thing I noticed was a trend asking for more personal content. I'm trying to decide how to approach that. For now, you can find most of my personal content on either my @paperswallowevents Instagram or my even more personal @prettypoppypeony Instagram, so I'd hop over there and follow me!
  • Finish Pinfinite Growth. I really love this class, but in order to experience the results I have to put in a decent amount of time - time I didn't have this past month like I thought I would.
  • Plan out the rest of my 2015. I'm giving this one a half cross off because I thought about some of it, and Michael and I talked about it a lot, but I never actually put anything into my calendar. Time to make that happen!
  • Keep working on finding our community/people in Charleston. We've found a weekly community group to join and I've been trying to make coffee dates and other mini get togethers with some of the women I'm getting to know in the area. New friends take time, but we're beginning to find our people! :)

This Month's Goals

  • Put on a great Big Fake Wedding with the other Charleston vendors!
  • Travel to Birmingham. One of my current brides is located in Birmingham and I can't wait to travel there and coordinate this event we've been planning for months.
  • Side note to the bullet above, but enjoy road tripping with Michael. I'm thankful that he's going to be able to come with me and split up the driving to Birmingham.
  • Dip my toes into Pinfinite Growth. haha. This month is going to be a busy one, so I'm not going to declare that I'll finish the course, but I do plan to work on making tiny bits of progress.
  • Put dates on the calendar for the rest of 2015. Time to put pen to paper! Also time to research and schedule flights to visit my family in California.
  • Celebrate Halloween! My friend, Amy, is throwing a Frightful Fiction Halloween party that I'm pretty excited about. I need to finalize Michael's and my costumes.
  • Start thinking about our Christmas cards for this year. What can I say? I'm a planner and I like to do things in advance.
  • Keep investing in our Thursday night community. Michael and I are really enjoying this small group of people we've discovered!
  • Get plugged in with the local Rising Tide community. I can't wait to meet more creatives!
  • Stay on top of all the other items that come with running this business - emails, client projects, blog posts, newsletters, etc.

What do you have going on this month?

xoxo, Stacia

P.S. I'm currently finalizing my blog content plans for the next 3 months. If you have any wedding planning questions or things you would like me to talk about, put them in the comments or shoot me an email at! :)

Wedding Invitation Dos and Don'ts

Are you a bride to be who is about to send her wedding invitations? In this blog post the dos and don'ts of wedding invitations are quickly and easily covered so that you don't have to worry! There's even a free printable checklist, if you need it. Click through to grab it!

Is it time for you to begin writing your wedding invitations? These are a necessary part of every wedding, but when it comes down to writing and ordering them, it is easy for brides to feel overwhelmed. What do you include? What don't you include? How much do you need to stick with the tried and true and how much fun can you have with the format? Well, stress no more! Here is my quick list of dos and don'ts for your wedding invitations, all in one place, just to make it easier for you!

BONUS! If you pop your email into the form at the bottom of this post, not only will you get added to my list of VIPS for my very best planning tips and advice, but you will also get INSTANT access to my FREE wedding invitation checklist printable!

When sending your wedding INVITATIONS Do:

...include the important information. The hosts' names, the couple's names, the event date, time and location are all vital pieces of information to include.

...consider whether or not you need to include the street address of your location. It is not required, but if the location is newer, lesser known, or hard to find via Google, then it is recommended that you include it. 

...give credit to the host(s). Who is paying for the event? Her family? His family? The couple? Choose wording that reflects this. 

Want some help with choosing this wording? Pop your email into the form at the bottom of this post and get instant access to my FREE wedding invitation checklist with wording suggestions! consistent with either your British or American spelling. Are you using "honour" or "honor"? It doesn't matter which one you use, but be consistent. So if you choose to use "honour" then also pay attention to words like "favour." mindful of the colors you're using. Make sure that they are consistent with the colors you're using for the rest of your event. postage on your RSVPs. I understand that this adds to your overall wedding budget, but stamping the invitations goes a long way in setting the tone for your event and making your guests feel as if you want their presence. attention to the titles of your guests. Not all of your guests are "Mr. + Mrs." Some are "Dr. + Mrs." or "The Doctors ____" Taking the time to make sure you have your guests titles correct will go a long way in making them feel special.

...give your guests the option for an online RSVP if you think you will get more RSVPs that way. If you don't think many of your friends will remember to send in their wedding RSVPs, then you may want to include an email on the RSVP card for them to use. You can also often set this up via your wedding website. consistent with your "plus ones." Though the rule can easily get blurred regarding who you should give a plus one to and who you don't need to, the best rule is to be consistent. Whether you draw the line at dating, or allow everyone over 18 to bring a plus one, be consistent so that when you're questioned you have a rule to fall back on and you don't hurt feelings by doing a "case-by-case" analysis.

...check spelling. If nothing else, make sure your spelling is correct!

when sending your wedding invitations Don't:

...feel restricted to a certain format. There are many different wording variations that you can choose from, or you can construct your own. Consider the type of event you are desiring and build your invitation to fit that. The most important factor is ensuring that all the important information is conveyed to your guests. A good general rule is to give each piece of important information its own line (hosts names, date, time, location, etc.)

...go for a casual style invitation if you're having a formal event. Your invitation sets the tone for your event. Though, as I mentioned above, you have room to play around with the style, you should also be sure that your invitation is setting your guests expectations for your wedding day.

...include your registries. That's what your wedding website is for! You can also ask your close friends and family to help you spread around where you're registered, and of course you can tell people if they ask. Even if you don't want guests to bring gifts at all, I'm afraid it's still considered rude to include that on your invitation. (Do include information about your wedding website in your invitations, though - the RSVP card is great for this - so that they have access to the information.)

...use printed labels to address your invitations. Getting the addresses beautifully printed onto the envelopes (there are services which offer this) is one thing, but printed labels can make guests feel like you're approaching your wedding with a less than detailed eye. Plus, labels don't always handle the post well, especially if they get moist, so to ensure your guests get their invitations just go with handwriting. Don't like your handwriting but can't hire a calligrapher? Find some friends who may be willing to do it!

...list your wedding and reception as "adult only." Instead, be very specific about who is invited to your wedding by listing each person on the outer (and inner) envelope. 

...don't include a false start time. Guests know better than to be late to weddings and often arrive around 30 minutes early. If your ceremony is scheduled to start at 7, then please list that time on your invitations. I know you don't want anyone to miss out, but if you list 6:30 on your invitations, some guests will be waiting around for an hour for the ceremony to start. If 7 o'clock rolls around and guests are still filing in the doors, your coordinator will wait to start the ceremony until they have found a seat.

...send an invitation to someone who declined after your save the date. If someone has already informed you that they won't be able to make it to your wedding, then don't send them an invitation. It comes across as if you're begging for gifts. Just use the opportunity to invite someone else who you would like to be there!

Can you think of anything you wish more people would include on their invitations?

xoxo, Stacia

Is Booking an Amateur Photographer Friend to Photograph Your Wedding a Good Idea?

To cut costs on your wedding budget, is it a good idea to book your amateur photographer friend to photograph your wedding? This article talks the pros and cons and things you'll want to consider before taking that leap! @paperswalloweve

Last week I walked you through how to pick your wedding photographer. This is a large part of every wedding planning process, and your photographer can account for a large part of your wedding budget. Something that's come up before with friends, clients, and just around the internet is whether or not it's worth it to cut costs and save money by hiring your friend with a nice camera to capture your wedding photos. 

As a wedding coordinator, I've worked weddings where the couple has hired a friend to do their photographs and everything has worked out. However, I've seen what can happen when everything doesn't work out, which is why I wanted to talk through the pros and cons with you today!

Questions to ask yourself when considering hiring a friend to do your photos:

  • Do I like the photos I normally see this friend taking and sharing? 
  • Are they going to be able to focus on taking pictures and not get distracted because they know the other wedding guests? (a.k.a. Are they going to be able to do their job and capture moments or be too busy talking with your mom?)
  • How important are really good photos of my wedding day to me?
  • Have they been to very many weddings before?
  • Do I have enough time on my wedding day to give them a lot of extra time to take photos or are they going to be rushed? (Amateur photographers are going to take longer to get good shots, they will need plenty of buffer time unlike a photographer who is more accustomed to taking wedding photos.)
  • Will it stress me or my mom out because we're busy worrying about what the photographer is doing instead of enjoying the day?
  • Am I considering this option because I really cannot afford a professional photographer within my budget or am I considering it just because I want to save money?
  • Am I considering it because I know that my friend wants to get experience photographing weddings and I feel obligated to ask them?

The last two questions are the most important ones to consider because they paint a more realistic portrait of the situation for you. Why are you really considering hiring a less experienced photographer? Personally, and this is nothing against amateur photographers because I know several and absolutely adore them, I think it's always worth it to hire someone who really knows their way around a camera and has either been trained by a professional wedding photographer or has experience shooting weddings. Your photos are the biggest thing you take away after your wedding day, and I believe strongly in investing in those memories. However, I know that this is not always realistic. 

If you are considering hiring a friend because your budget really is small and you don't think you can afford a professional photographer, I would encourage you to:

  1. Reexamine your budget. Is there any other area that you can compromise in? 
  2. Make a list of the friends that you could consider and figure out who photographs closest to a style that you enjoy. Their photography style will develop over time, but the work they are producing now is the best representation you have regarding what your wedding photos could turn out with.
  3. Ask them to do engagement photos first to make sure you're comfortable working with them and like the quality of work they produce.
  4. Consider asking two friends if they would be comfortable working together on your wedding day so that they can help each other capture moments. A lot of photographers have a second shooter, so as long as your friends are comfortable working together, this is a good way to build in a backup in case one person's photo doesn't turn out.
  5. Talk to them about expectations and give them plenty of time to capture photos on your wedding day.

If you are considering hiring a friend because you just want to save money, then my advice is to invest in the photographs.

Unless the photographer was terrible, I have never known anyone who regretted investing in photography.

If you're considering investing in a friend just because you know they want to start shooting weddings so you feel as if you have to give them experience, it's okay to say no.

Seriously, that's not a good enough reason. It's okay to tell your friend that you would rather they were just able to enjoy your wedding day and then leave it at that.

Remember, a friend who is a photographer is different than an amateur photographer.

If you have a friend who regularly shoots weddings or runs a photography business, then that is is a different story. Michael and I hired a friend to photograph our wedding, but she trained all through college under a very successful wedding photographer, she second shot a lot of their weddings, and then launched her own photography business after college where all she shoots is weddings and engagements. If you have a friend with that type of experience, then you do not need to worry about their qualifications. In those situations you are hiring a professional photographer who happens to be a friend.

What do you think? Is photography worth investing in?

xoxo, Stacia

P.S. Why a super detailed shot list might be a hindrance to your photographer.

5 Beautiful Places to Honeymoon in the U.S.A.

5 Beautiful Places to Honeymoon in the U.S.A. Is a European honeymoon too expensive for your budget? Or are you just wanting to explore some new places close to home? A long flight isn't always on everyone's wishlist for their honeymoon, so here is a list of five beautiful places that you can travel within the United States.

After months of wedding planning and the excitement of the big day, I don't know a bride or groom who isn't excited to go off together on a relaxing honeymoon! There are plenty of brides and grooms, however, that don't want to jump on a long flight to Europe or deal with the jet lag of a major time change. Today I'm sharing five beautiful places in the United States where you could honeymoon!

Photo by Mantripping.

Photo by Mantripping.

1. Napa Valley, California.

Wine country is both beautiful and romantic. Plus, it doesn't hurt that California holds many different types of beautiful places you can explore!

Image by popsugar.

Image by popsugar.

2. San Diego, California. 

San Diego is a city that has always held my heart. (Writing this post, I'm realizing I'm a little biased in this direction. More branching out next time! Promise! ;) Balboa Park and its botanical garden is particularly beautiful. And there is so much good food!

Photo from Buzzfeed. (If there is an original source, I would love to be able to credit them!)

Photo from Buzzfeed. (If there is an original source, I would love to be able to credit them!)

3. Kennebunkport, Maine.

Maine is full of charming little towns that you can visit and explore. Perfect for keeping things romantic and low key!

Photo by Studio DIY.

Photo by Studio DIY.

4. Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo, California.

This one is on my list of places to go. With each room a different theme and full of quirky details, you're sure to stay amazed and entertained. From what I've heard, if you want to reserve a specific room it's best to do that over the phone. 

Photo by Elah Tree.

Photo by Elah Tree.

5. Newport, Rhode Island.

Newport is a beautiful part of Rhode Island and the mansion tours will astound you! This honeymoon spot is perfect if you want a bit of history added in.

What are some beautiful places that you want to see in the United States?

xoxo, Stacia

How to Pick Your Wedding Photographer

Is choosing your wedding photographer overwhelming you? In this post, Paper Swallow Events breaks down how to pick your wedding photographer in easy steps that can easily be applied to any wedding budget! @paperswalloweve

Choosing your wedding photographer is arguably one of the most important choices you will make in regards to your wedding. They will be capturing the images that will be your primary memory of the day after it's over, and they're one of the vendors that you actually work close with on the wedding day itself. If you don't enjoy their photography style or their personality, then it will be much harder for you to enjoy your wedding day both in the moment and when you look back on it through the images.

I know that a large photography budget isn't possible for every bride, but today I wanted to round up some essential tips for choosing a wedding photographer that will work well for you. The best part is that these tips can be applied to any wedding budget, you just may have to look harder in some instances!

Determine Your Budget.

I think this is the most important place to start because I have had friends that have fallen in love with a photographer out of their price range and ended up stressed and in tears because they couldn't figure out how to make it work. Save yourself the heartache by determining your budget first and only exploring portfolios that are in your price range. 

To determine your budget, you should first figure out what people in your area have been spending. Wedding forums or your married friends are great places to start. Photography costs surprise some people, so knowing a reasonable price range to budget within will greatly lessen your potential headaches. 

Remember, it's not a bargain if you hate your wedding photos.

The photographer doesn't list their price on their website? Look at enough of their work to determine if you like their style enough to inquire about the price. But don't fall in love until you have your answer! Once you have your answer, then you can really dig deep and decide if they really are who you want to hire.

Check out their website and review their work.

Does their style resonate with you? There are many different styles of photography, so make sure the style resonates with you and how you want your day captured.

Reach out to them. See if your personalities mesh.

I'm not saying you need to become besties with your photographer, but you will be spending a large part of your wedding day with them around so it's important that they make you comfortable. If their personality is stressful for you pre-wedding day, it's very likely that they will be even more stressful for you on your wedding day.

Ask to see a couple of their complete wedding albums.

This will give you a fuller picture than their highlight posts. It will also help you know what to expect from types of images to how many images you can expect.

Don't be afraid to ask for reviews or see if you can speak to one of their past clients.

They should have testimonials listed on their website, but don't be afraid to ask them for more, check around online, or ask if you can email one of their past clients regarding a specific question you have about them. They should be willing to help you in this area.

Confirm Who Will be Photographing Your Day.

If you are partnering with a larger photo studio/business you will definitely want to ask which photographer will be in charge of your wedding day. Once you've found out who it is, ask to see specific examples of this shooter's work. The album you fell in love with might be the work of a similar, yet different, photographer.

If you fall in love with a photographer out of your budget, look at their packages and see if by removing things like albums you can bring the price down.

Now, I'll be honest, we didn't get a wedding album when Michael and I got married. And I have yet to design an album like I keep intending to. It just keeps getting pushed aside. So I really recommend getting on from your photographer if they offer them, even though it does cost a bit more. However, if money is really an issue, see if they'll be willing to cut out some of these extras from their packages so that you can afford to hire them. They may, or they may not. There's no harm in asking.

Understand Your printing rights.

Some photographers sell the rights to print the photos separately. Understand what you're getting for your package and what rights you will have in regards to the images later.

What other factors do you think should go in to choosing your wedding photographer?

xoxo, Stacia

P.S. Were these tips helpful for you? If so, you may be interested in tomorrow's newsletter. We're talking about the reasons why you really should get engagement photos taken (especially by the same photographer doing your wedding) because even though it might cost a bit more, it could save you a lot of heartache.