Wedding Planning Tips from Real Bride Erica

img_7482For newly engaged ladies: the best kind of person to get advice from during this life season is from someone that just walked through it so I hope this blog is helpful for you! I connected with a beautiful newlywed named Erica a while ago on Instagram. I followed her wedding story closely and was inspired by her attention to detail throughout the planning process. From a custom Hayley Paige bolero to 26 unique centerpieces, she takes you down her path of becoming a bride…so here you go, 10 Q&A with Erica!

  1. Hey Erica, once you had the ring on your finger, where did you begin with the wedding planning process? I actually took my time with the planning process. My now husband and I were together for 8 years when he proposed. I never put pressure or expectations for marriage. In so many ways I am so happy we waited to get married. We had everything in a perfect place before taking the next step in our lives together.  I enjoyed every second of dating and wanted to savor all the precious moments of being engaged. It wasn’t until at least 6 months later I started to look for venues. I knew I wanted something more formal and elegant and our wedding size was on the larger side. I needed a venue that could hold 300 plus people. For me it was a no-brainer…The Tropicana Atlantic City. Mostly because I work here and have seen lavish parties throughout my tenure. The food is outstanding and fit my vision perfectly.
  2. Was there anything that surprised you during the planning? A great deal was surprising. However, what I found the most surprising was the responsiveness of the vendors. Some were so attentive and their responses were swift and informative. Others wouldn’t even respond until I would call or email several times. For someone in sales, this was extremely disappointing. You are seeking out these vendors for a service you are paying for and to not even get a response is unacceptable. In the end, it all worked out.
  3.  What was the hardest part of planning your wedding? The hardest part was actually picking a ceremony spot. Tropicana Atlantic City acquired The Chelsea Hotel in 2018 and I knew instantly I wanted to get married there. It embodied a vintage art deco architecture with deeply rooted history to Atlantic City. However, they did not have a wedding in this building for 5 years. In addition, all the weddings were less than 200 people. We had the tough task of working through construction, layout changes and space constraints. With some first-rate problem solving skills, the Chelsea 5 Cabana Pool was the answer. It flowed perfectly into the cocktail hour and I loved the unique outdoor landscape it provided for the ceremony.
  4. What was the best part of planning? The best part was by far was the day I got my wedding dress. I thought it would be fun to take a trip to Kleinfeld with my mother and two sisters. It was literally like heaven. I remember opening the doors and just being in complete awe, even the waiting room was gorgeous. There were over 20 appointments going on the same time as mine and felt apprehensive that I wouldn’t get the time and attention needed in order to Say Yes To The Dress. As I was waiting for my consultant, Lisa Furhman from SAY YES TO THE DRESS introduces herself and instantly felt like the only bride in the store. She escorted me to the dressing room and asked me questions. I told her I was looking for something clean and timeless, almost vintage old Hollywood. She literally nailed it on the first try.
  5. You were such a glamorous bride! How did you come up with your wedding style for the big day? I saw the bolero first in my favorite wedding blog Green Wedding Shoes. The mIMG_2220oment I saw it, I knew I had to have it. The problem was trying to locate it. I literally called over 200 stores in the Tri State area trying to locate the Hayley Paige Bolero. Each and every bridal salon that carries Hayley Paige within a 6 hour radius I called….nothing! I even called Hayley Paige corporate and they did not have any on hand I could try on. I finally found a place in Hammonton, New Jersey called Meadows Bridal Shop who decided to take on this task in finding the bolero for me. They took my measurements and sent to Hayley Paige. They had to make it custom. This was a huge risk because I wasn’t able to try it on and if I didn’t like it I couldn’t return it. Luckily it was gorgeous and I fell in love all over again when I put it on for the first time. My bridal inspiration came from the vibe of the venue. I wanted a vintage, art deco feel. The elaborate sparkle and design of the bolero paired with the clean satin gown was a combination made in Hollywood heaven.
  6.  I understand that you had a really unique wedding theme! How did you go about selecting it? The theme I chose for the wedding was Whimsical Summer Garden Party/Alice and Wonderland. I wanted bright florals, stripes and white draping in the ballroom. I wanted to create a feeling of being outside even though the reception was in a ballroom. (Some other themes considered were Great Gatsby and Kate Spade.) In the end I loved the theme of the wedding. I did not want to go over the top in your face Alice and Wonderland. All the details were very subtle and understated. It all tied together when you walked into the ballroom/rabbit hole.IMG_2833
  7. Once you selected your theme, how did you bring it to life? All the little details tied it together. I got inspiration from Alice and Wonderland. The cocktail hour had subtle details that touched on The Alice and Wonderland theme. For instance, our wedding had a Gin Bar featuring my Husband’s Gin Company Mr. Finger’s Alibi Gin. The signage focused on the “Drink Me” message from The Alice and Wonderland book. The drinks also were custom crafted by my Husband and garnished with an edible disk that displayed our initials. Moving into the reception, the seating chart was done with mini gin cocktails in little glass jars containing their table assignment with the message “Drink Me.” The welcome sign for the reception was an old wooden door with a glass door knob with the message “Welcome to Brian and Erica’s Wedding Come Join Us down the Rabbit Hole.” I wanted to give the impression the guests were opening the door to a whimsical fairytale taking them to a place of wonder and love. The wedding cake and dessert station had signage that said “Eat Me” and the guest book had signage that said “Sign Me.”Not one of the 26 centerpieces were the same. Each one unique with vintage clocks, teacups, tea kettles and lush bright florals. It was truly the best feeling in the world to see my vision become a reality.IMG_3276
  8. What was your best memory from the wedding? IMG_2214The best memory from my wedding was our first dance. We walked into the reception hand in hand with over 300 people watching and came together to dance to our song “Tenessee Whiskey” by Chris Stapleton. Although everyone was looking at us, I felt like we were the only two in the room. As we got into our first dance, the sparklers went off and everyone’s faces lit up. It was truly priceless. I also did a surprise father and daughter dance with my dad and the entire room went nuts—it was hilarious.
  9. Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently? The only thing I would do differently is I would have gotten pictures during sunset or golden hour. I love my pictures but it would be nice to have some variety of pictures from day to night outside.
  10. What’s your biggest piece of advice for other brides now that you have gone through this process? My biggest advice to brides is to focus on the love you and your fiancé share. Sometimes you get so focused on the details trying to make everything picture perfect. The truth is, it’s not going to be perfect and things won’t go as planned. At the end of the day it’s not about the pictures or getting your wedding mentioned on social media, it’s about celebrating your love and coming together as Husband and Wife and sharing a beautiful life together.

Vendor Love:

Venue: Tropicana Atlantic City

Wedding Planner: Kyle Holzemer

Bolero: Hayley Paige

Dress: Pnina Tornai

Dress: Kleinfeld

Photography: Magdalena Studios

Video: Flagship Studios

Hair: Regina Halper

Makeup: Brielle Zangari

Flowers and Decor: Janet Chester’s Flowers and Events in Atlantic City

Sparklers: White Isle Events

Stationary and Signage: Petal and Paper

Cocktails: Mr. Finger’s Alibi Gin

Ceremony Entertainment: Marc Diomede

Cocktail Hour Entertainment: Hildy and The Peptones

Reception Entertainment: The Exceptions

GIF Machine: Flagship Studios

Bridesmaid Dress: Hayley Paige Occasions

Groom and Groomsmen Attire: Tommy Hilfiger

Thanks for a great interview, Erica! Best of luck to you and Brian as you embark on upcoming life adventures as newlyweds.

With love,

Girl with a diamond ring

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New Seasons Bring New Wedding Inspiration

As we are heading into fall season- which will just as quickly become winter- there is a dose of new wedding inspiration that comes to life. No, you don’t have to have maroon bridesmaids dresses for fall, or a blue and white winter wonderland theme. There is so much more that you can do to incorporate the season into your wedding.

Think about these things:

CLOTHING can make your look feel relevant. Bridesmaids getting ready in flannel button ups or pjs? Yes, please. And for the bride, some of the classiest brides that I have seen are wearing a faux fur shrug or carrying a muff (instead of a bouquet.) Grooms can really step up their game with a maroon and black tux or navy separates. You could also both stay warm with matching monogrammed or customized leather/jean jackets.

FOOD is a great way to tie in seasonal details. For fall, you could serve pumpkin pie at the reception or have a candy bar with candy corn. For winter, have a hot chocolate bar or serve peppermint tea/liquor. And don’t forget about your cake flavor and design—incorporate the season into the color, style, and even your cake topper.

DECOR is a given, but don’t feel like it needs to be too literal. Think beyond colors. Use textures like soft velvet or glam feathers. Patterns like leaves or snowflakes can also bring the season to life. And if you’re showcasing photos of you two (like from an engagement shoot), make sure to plan ahead and take some seasonally-relevant photos together. For example, even if you’re doing a spring shoot, you could bring some scarves or blankets for a few extra shots to share while at the big day.

FLOWERS that grow successfully year-round or specifically in this part of the calendar year will be a lot easier to obtain. (Do this research before you dream up your flower details! Here’s a great link from The Knot. According to their guide, Chrysanthemums peak in fall and the Calla Lily can be a good flower choice for Winter, for example.)

FAVORS can help send your guests home with a small piece of the season. From s’more kits, mittens, to snow globes, you could do some really fun things with favors.

Lastly, know that you don’t have to incorporate any seasonal components if you don’t want to. If you’ve had a vision of what you want in your mind and it doesn’t completely match the time of year, do it anyways. Pastel in November, why not? Hot apple cider in spring? If you want. Don’t force yourself into a box that is bound by the calendar, but know that you can still use the time of year to your advantage.

With love,

Girl with a diamond ring

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Expectation Setting When Planning Your Wedding

Once you have the shiny ring on your finger is when you need to step back and realistically ask yourself and your future spouse about expectations for the big day. The reality is that your wedding day will not meet your expectations. In many, and likely unexpected ways, it will likely exceed your expectations. In other ways, it will not meet the details of the image that you have made up in your mind.

Leading up to the big day, here are a few times that wedding planning did NOT meet my expectations.

  • Once I got engaged, I knew that planning the wedding would become a priority in my life. But I got a quick and very harsh reality check when I realized that other life priorities would still be important, and unexpected hard challenges might still come my way. Life doesn’t stop or become more smooth just because you’re engaged. My ask to you: know that juggling these priorities is a dry run for what life will be after you are wed. When two become one (even from the engagement) means there will be double the joys and double the sorrows. Prepare for that earlier and try your best to welcome what comes your way.
  • After I selected my wedding gown, I came back 8 months later for my first fitting. I thought it would fit better than when I first picked it out and would only take a few alterations to make it right. Wrong. It felt like it almost got worse than the sample gown. It took two other fittings to make it right. It wasn’t a big issue, but it definitely deflated the emotions from my first fitting after dreaming about it all of those months. My ask to you: be patient with the vision that you have for the big day. Whether it be your dress fitting or trimming down before the wedding, it will all come together beautifully.
  • I had three women in my bridal party but only two attended the wedding. A longtime friend let me down leading up to the big day and on the day itself. My expectation was that having a small bridal party with my closest would be a smooth experience, but it blew up and brought a lot of unwanted drama. It ended up working out for the best because the people that genuinely wanted me happy were standing next to me, but it was something that I wish that I could do over. My ask to you: when you choose your ‘team bride’ ask yourself if it’s someone that will be by your side for life before you invite them to join you to be in all of your photos. If there’s someone that you’re on the fence with, trust your gut.

My hopes are that hearing about my experiences, you might benefit when you’re setting your own expectations. It doesn’t mean that you won’t be happy because you will be over the moon, but sometimes a mental reset of what you might expect can be helpful!

With love,

Girl with a diamond ring

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Sweating for the Wedding

Now that we’re more than half way through the year, you might want to dust off those New Years resolutions and begin to evaluate where you’re at. If one of those resolutions was to get fit, especially if for a wedding, then let’s take a look at that one together.

Every bride wants to look beautiful on her wedding day, and that will be true whether or not you’re a certain shape or size. A woman in love, in a gorgeous dress, is always stunning.

I had goals for my wedding day and the way I envisioned myself looking. I am proud to say that I was in the best shape of my life on the day I got married. I worked hard at it, and was thankful for my one year and two month engagement because it allowed me a reasonable window of time.

When it comes to your wedding, consider these things:

    Don’t go over board by setting unattainable goals. You are going to have new stressors that you have never handled before. Some will be task-oriented, but it could also be related to relationships or life events that are not directly related to planning.
    You have to be realistic. In many cases, work outs will naturally have to wind down before the big day. You are going to likely have things like a weekend away with the girls, dress fittings, hair and make up trials…and then guests come in along with the rehearsal dinner etc. Because of this, it’s likely more realistic to set your milestones to up to two weeks before the wedding, and then allow yourself some time to breathe before the big day.
    Quality time is going to continue to be important so consider a few active things that you can do with your spouse. Go for a walk together. Ride bikes down the beach. Or join a boot camp class that you can both take.
    While feeling and looking good will be important, you need to make sure you’re getting enough sleep and taking care of your mental health, too. Make sure you’re scheduling time to focus on some soul-nourishing activities that will keep you in the right headspace.
    Once your honeymoon is over and you’re settled into being a newlywed, pick back up where you left off! Your body might rebound quickly if you are too extreme with your lifestyle changes before and after the big day. Aim to continue to be healthy and strong so you can be the best spouse you can be for years to come.

With love,

Girl with a diamond ring

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Wedding Trends in 2019

img_7482I can’t believe that June is right around the corner! Not only does this mean that summer is in full swing, but this also happens to be the busiest wedding month of the year (which will most definitely come with some incredible Hallmark Channel movies!)

While the key elements involved in weddings remain fairly consistent from wedding season to another, the changes in culture and relationship norms often bring distinct wedding trends. To brush up on your trends for the year, here are some resources that I recommend. While some trends are simply elevation of typical wedding details (like florals), other trends might surprise you (did someone say a sleep mask and ear plugs?)

    1. Revealed: The Hottest Summer Wedding Trends of 2019 according to 1000 millennials (CBD is #1) via Ez-Lifestyle
    2. The 2019 Wedding Trends to Watch via Ruffled Blog
    3. 2019 Wedding Trends That Will Make Your Day Unforgettable via JuneBug Weddings
    4. Etsy Releases Top Wedding Trends of 2019 to Inspired Your Future Wedding Planning via Brides
    5. 15 New Wedding Trends to Watch for in 2019, According to Planners via Martha Stewart Weddings

At the end of the day, take wedding trends with a grain of salt. While some might be the perfect fit for your big day, don’t feel the need to force any of these ideas into your wedding themes just to stay relevant. Your wedding should reflect your relationship and the love that you two share…the rest is just icing on top.

With love,

Girl with a diamond ring

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