Monday, June 23, 2014
While in the midst of planning your wedding, it's sometimes hard to see beyond the wedding date. You spend months of prepping, saving and stressing, and are looking forward to heading out on your honeymoon to enjoy the bliss of being married. The last thing you want to worry about is all the additional time and effort necessary to book the trip.
Luckily, Carlie at 2Travel Anywhere, Nashville's honeymoon travel expert, can help you plan your trip to paradise. Specializing in Caribbean resorts, Carlie has personally travelled to all of the resorts she recommends.
Trusting a pro to take care of all your travel details certainly has its perks!
Local couple Laura and Michael wanted a relaxing honeymoon in the sun following their January wedding. They were glad they let 2 Travel Anywhere provide exactly what they were looking for at the all-inclusive Sandals Royal Caribbean in Jamaica.
Check out the interview below to learn about their relaxing honeymoon and their travel recommendations.
Planning your honeymoon
Was the honeymoon a surprise, did one of you plan it or did you plan it together?
It wasn't a surprise exactly, but Michael basically said "I trust you" and weighed in very little during the planning process.
If one of you planned the honeymoon, who?
I actually planned the trip in conjunction with my father-in-law, who loves going to the beach.
What was your vision for your honeymoon?
We both work high-stress, high-energy jobs, and planning the wedding was more stressful than I had expected, so my vision for our honeymoon was total R&R.
Did you always agree on your honeymoon vision and if not, who wanted what? How did you come to an agreement?
We always agreed because he didn't offer an opinion. ;)
Smart man. How did you choose/plan your honeymoon location, activities?
We knew we wanted an all-inclusive resort for a variety of reasons, so that narrowed things down a bit in the beginning. We chose Jamaica based on the average temperatures - since our honeymoon was in January we wanted to be sure that we went somewhere that we could actually get in the water without freezing!
How did you learn about 2 Travel Anywhere?
Carlie at 2Travel Anywhere was recommended to me by my wedding planner and sorority sister, Kelly Dellinger of Kelly Dellinger Events.
We love Kelly! Did you consider planning your honeymoon without a travel service? Why did you choose to work with Carlie?
I definitely never considered planning the honeymoon without some type of assistance. The last trip I planned (the trip where we got engaged, actually!) was a total disaster because of my inattention to detail; it cost me $500 just to correct the mistakes I made to our flight itinerary.. yikes! Since I knew we wanted to leave the country for our honeymoon I knew I would need somebody behind the scenes taking care of all of those little details that clearly are not my expertise! I chose to work with Carlie in particular because Kelly had worked with her not only on a professional level but also on a personal one and had taken several trips planned by Carlie. Kelly assured me that Carlie would take care of all the details. Once I spoke to Carlie over the phone for the first time, I was sold. I knew she had me taken care of!
What were your honeymoon dates? Jan 5-13, 2014
I actually wish we had left one day later, leaving the morning after the wedding was really difficult, because our flights were so early - we ended up getting up at 3am to make it to the airport on time. Tough to do after a long night of partying and celebration!
Where did you go? Sandals Royal Caribbean in Montego Bay, Jamaica
What were some of your activities?
Honestly, we didn't participate in much! We mainly spent our time at the pool and the beach. We never left the resort property. It was so beautiful and relaxing we didn't feel the need to seek out other adventures!
What was the best part about your honeymoon?
We felt like absolute royalty! The level of service was unbelievably amazing and the food was phenomenal.
Would you recommend this island, city, location?
Absolutely yes! It's incredibly beautiful, and the weather is perfect. Definitely a good place to go on a winter honeymoon because you will not worry about the pool or ocean being too cool to get in - it's perfect.
Would you recommend this resort?
I would definitely recommend the Royal Caribbean. The staff is attentive and kind. The food is wonderful. You don't have to leave the resort to have a good time. Best of all, there is something for every type of couple. We are the keep-to-ourselves, quiet type, and we were able to relax and chill out without feeling imposed upon or pushed into activities. At the same time, I saw many more active couples taking part in all the entertainment and activities that were offered and having a ball. I feel like the resort is able to meet the needs of any couple with any personality. I don't think there is a person on earth that wouldn't enjoy everything they have to offer there! This resort actually was not my first choice, but was the one that Carlie strongly recommended for us. I am really glad that I trusted her judgement and took her advice!
The pictures in this story are all real photos from the couple's relaxing beach honeymoon.
Thursday, June 12, 2014
What is the one thing everyone remembers about an event? The food! I'm here to help you make sure your guests leave with a great taste in their mouths.
After learning about national and regional trends from top event planners around the country, I headed over to sit down with Nashville's top caterer, Jim Hagy, owner of Chef’s Market and Catering (chefsmarket.com). He gave me the scoop on what's trending locally on the food scene.
Organic & Farm Fresh
According to the experts, several new trends are starting to appear on wedding reception menus. The first one being couples requesting healthier ingredients and transparency in ingredients. People are eating with a conscience these days. They want to know what they are consuming. More and more, listing ingredients on items and on menus is becoming important. Food items are trending away from no fat and low fat to organic, no hormones, no bi-products and no preservatives. Guests want fresh and natural foods when they attend events just like they eat in their everyday lives.
Full Customization, Specialty Meals
Jim informed me that, “Millennials what more options. They are used to customizing everything in their lives and they expect the same when it comes to choosing their wedding menus. 'Farm to Table' has been popular in restaurants for several years and now we are seeing more requests for event farm to table menus. Also, many couples and guests are switching to healthier diets like vegan or gluten free and we have adjusted our menus to accommodate them.”
Healthy, Natural Ingredients
While I was at Chef’s Market, they were doing a photo shoot for their current campaign, Eat Right, 27 Days, 27 Ways. I also had the opportunity to sample several of their signature salads featuring all kinds of healthy ingredients. Which brings me to the second thing that is trending in event food and that is healthy grains. Freeka, Teff, Chick Peas and Quinoa are actually ancient but have started popping up in restaurants, grocery store shelves and event menus. These products have been part of Middle Eastern or Mediterranean diets that health experts are suggesting to improve heart health. Just like healthy grains, the third trend is healthier proteins becoming tent poles of event menus; items such as eggs, fish, nuts, etc.
Ethnic Dishes, Bursts of Flavor
Nashville has a booming restaurant scene and that has created a demand for more unique menu offerings. Never before have we been exposed to so many food options.
Couples are requesting ethnic food as palates have advanced. In order to accommodate all of your wedding guests, Jim suggests that engaged couples blend unique foods with familiar flavors.
I had the pleasure of experiencing one of Jim’s creations: A Vietnamese Bahn Mi made with a Tennessee traditional flavor of Pork Belly. It was delicious!
Couples are opting for original dessert selections instead of a large cake. Jim explained, “for a while cupcakes were the hottest thing, now we are seeing preference toward small dessert plates with a variety of flavors. Macaroons, mixes of chocolates or a variety of small bites is what people want.” Speaking of desserts, don't be afraid to blur the line between savory and sweet. Chef’s food designers are experimenting with traditionally savory ingredients and using them in desserts.
All photos: Chef's Market Facebook page
Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Lane Photography’s husband and wife team, Scott and Kristin, are not only crazy talented wedding photographers, but they actually care about, and even want to help support, your marriage. Because of this, Ashley’s Bride Guide is thrilled to be partnering with them on a series that focuses on the importance of that sacred vow and ways to nurture your relationship before and after the “I Do’s.”
Photos from Lane Photography's May wedding planning workshop for engaged, Nashville couples
Valuable advice from Scott of Lane Photography:
During your time dating, you and your fiancé are spending a ton of time together. You’re getting to know each other, talking on the phone for hours, and every waking, non-working minute is usually spent with him. If you have an awesome fiancé, then he is also helping you with the planning of the wedding, and that means you are spending even more time together, but is this quality time together? Not really.
Make sure that you take a night every couple of weeks and just spend it together. Don't talk about wedding planning, or anything related to the wedding, just spend it together. Maybe go to the movies, or your favorite restaurant. Batting cages can be a lot of fun, or what about the bowling alley, when was the last time you went bowling?
This is why Kristin and I make it a point of having dinner with our clients. Not only does it get them away from planning for a night, we get to spend quality time with them and really get to know our clients on a more personal level. All that time we invested in our clients comes to fruition on the wedding day, we are able to capture phenomenal images of our clients since they feel comfortable with. We are more like friends than photographers to them.
So what happens after the wedding is done, and you’re married? What becomes of all that time that you were spending together?
Lots of newly married women out there will tell you, that the first couple of months takes some getting used to because, they aren't spending all their time planning the wedding, and they're not spending as much time with their new husband. Don't let yourself fall into this trap. Women will tell each other it felt weird to not be doing anything for the wedding and they didn't know what to do. That's simple. Nothing. Don't do anything. Just spend time with your new husband and enjoy the first months of being married. There is nothing better sometimes than just spending the night at home, cooking dinner together, and then snuggling on the couch or on the porch swing.
Be sure to check out Lane Photography if you are looking for a photographer who genuinely cares about your marriage, and of course, great photography. They even recently started offering something a little old school, and added film to their wedding coverage. So, if you’re a lover of film be sure to ask them about it!
Scott and Kristin also offer a popular marriage workshop to engaged and married couples. The next Nashville marriage workshop will be held on August 16.
Monday, June 2, 2014
If you’re anything like me, the moment you were engaged — even a little before, while we’re being honest — you started looking for wedding vendors. You have in mind the look you’re going for and the budget you’ve got to work with.
But before you start solidifying plans with deposits to hold your venue and other rentals, take a moment to consider an option you might not have thought of: There could be way to get everything you want for a cheaper price all in one place.
Some event planners offer all-inclusive packages that not only include the planning of your wedding day, but also help you secure your venue, flowers and other wedding components for more affordable rates based on their industry relationships and expertise. We chatted with Sarah Goude of Nashville’s Regalo Design, a planning and floral design studio, about how an all-inclusive package may be a better option for brides.
Tell me about Regalo Design’s all-inclusive service.
At Regalo, we handle all of the planning, vendor relations, contract negotiations and have four planning meetings with our couples. During the meetings, we discuss the ideas the bride has for her wedding, such as what she wants in a venue and the type of food she likes; we plan all of the activities for the day; we talk about the flowers and decor she likes; and we go through the final event details a month out from the wedding.
Because we are a full-service business, our brides get all flowers at wholesale cost and all our decorations at no additional charge, including draping, candles, ceremony backdrops, etc.
Why is an all-inclusive service something brides should consider?
By using a company that offers an all-inclusive service, brides don’t have to deal with multiple people — they only have to deal with one. Even if you have a separate decorator, planner and florist, they all need to be in communication with each other to make sure everything goes smoothly. Using full-service planning, you’re talking to one person during the entire process. It’s very convenient and our brides end up saving money because they’re not using so many vendors.
What are some fears brides may have about using an all-inclusive service?
Some brides are afraid they’ll lose themselves, that their wedding will look like everyone else’s. When you work with us, you won’t have that concern. Our all-inclusive doesn’t mean you get one option. We’re all about implementing our client’s vision! Our weddings all look so different and we’re able to add a different personality and various unique touches based on the client's desires.
Say a bride wants a wedding that looks like $30,000, but only has $20,000 in her budget. How would you make that happen for her?
First, we would sit down with the bride and go through her budget, helping her determine what is most important to her. Then, we would create a custom budget with her, allocating what is needed for flowers, photography, the venue, etc. With this, we can maximize the budget to make her wedding look more expensive than it really is because we’re able to use our own decor — we don’t have any limitations. We also do all of our own floral arrangements, too, so that is included in the price as well.
We’ve heard people see the weddings we’ve done and say, ‘Man, that must have cost a fortune!’ and then they’re surprised to know how much the budget for the wedding really was. Even more, the best compliment we’ve received is when a bride tells us, ‘That was so worth it. I didn’t have to worry about anything.’ We really want brides to have the best day possible. It’s our passion and my life’s work serving others in this way.
Regalo Design’s full-service package is $5,000. The planning and floral design studio also offers month-of and day-of planning. For more information, visit www.regalodesign.com.
Lovely photos of Regalo Design weddings: She He We Photography
Monday, April 28, 2014
I didn’t take bridal portraits and my ceremony and reception were both indoors, but I can relate to the anxiety of dirtying up a precious wedding gown. When my husband chose braised short ribs as an entrée for our wedding, the thought of barbecue sauce and Vera Wang lace being in the same room together sent me into a tizzy.
For months, I fretted over the possibility that a condiment would ruin my treasured dress and my wedding day in one fail swoop. I had vivid nightmares in which my then fiancé and our 150+ guests gnawed sticky meat from grey pork bones, chucking them at my dress! (I was not what anyone would consider a laid-back bride; I OBSESSED over everything!) BUT BBQ nightmares aside, my wedding day came, no one threw ribs at me (not even my drunk Uncle!), and the last thing on my mind was ruining my dress… I was too busy dancing barefoot, posing for pictures with old friends, and blissfully enjoying my brand new husband (and copious amounts of champagne!).
For brides who fret over keeping a gown clean through outdoor portraits, ceremonies and receptions, we turned to gown care expert, Rhonda of Oakwood Cleaners, for tips and tricks of the trade to put your dirt-stressed minds at ease!
Photo: Jenna Henderson Photography
Bridal Portrait Tips
ABG: How can a bride keep her dress clean during bridal portraits so that it will look pristine for her wedding afterwards?
Rhonda: Always make sure your hands are clean and any excess make-up is blotted away around areas that touch the dress. A tip for keeping the hem clean is to cut a hole in the middle of a large flat sheet. Once the hole is cut step into it like a skirt/slip, then with clean hands put your dress on over the sheet. Make sure the sheet is large enough that it will protect the gown where it touches the ground. Use the edges of the sheet to pick the dress up off the ground when you move from place to place and then reposition it where necessary for the next pose. You might want to have a friend or mom with you to help with the sheet.
Oakwood highly recommends a simple sheet to cover the ground. It minimizes your dress's contact with the grass. This works for bridal portraits and style shoots, to keep borrowed gowns clean.
ABG: Are there any beauty items a bride should avoid during portraits that may stain her dress?
Rhonda: Heavy body make-up, self tanning spray or lotion, nail polish and hair products. Never use hairspray or styling products after you have put your dress on; the oils in these products can cause discoloration on the fine fabric of your wedding gown. Try to blot heavy body make-up or tanning products where it will come in contact with your dress. It is inevitable that the underside of your dress might pick up some self tanner or make-up along the top of the bodice, but this will not show though. Try to keep from putting anything on the entire area under your arms as this will rub off on the sides of your dress and might permanently stain it.
ABG: What items should a bride bring with her to ensure that her dress stays clean throughout the portrait photo shoot?
Rhonda: The sheet is the most important item, especially for an outdoor shoot. If it looks like rain, you might want to consider using plastic drop cloths or runners so you can cover some of the ground around the area. For quick touch ups? We do not suggest using any products to touch up stains on your dress as they can cause more harm than good.
Outdoor Wedding Tips
ABG: What dress damage do you most commonly see after an outdoor wedding?
Rhonda: We mostly see holes in the underneath of the train or torn hemlines, ragged edges, etc. There can also be grass stains, mud stains, twigs stuck in between layers or in the lace. With destination weddings that were on the beach, we get dresses back with sand in addition to the normal stress on the hemline and train from rocks, shells, etc.
ABG: What are ways a bride can minimize permanent damage during an outdoor wedding?
Rhonda: A large runner to guard against dress damage during the procession would help. It would also be ideal to bustle the bride’s dress immediately after the ceremony. If a bride is especially concerned, a tea length gown would eliminate most damage, but not every bride wants to forgo a train or long skirt.
Photo: Betsy Limbaugh Photography
ABG: What should a bride avoid coming into contact with if she is concerned about permanent staining to her gown?
Rhonda: Red wine is an infamous staining beverage. Again, always have clean hands and try to avoid letting everyone touch your dress as they are gazing at your beauty! The dress is going to touch the ground in most cases, and we have talked about what you can do for that. Try to keep from leaning on surfaces that are rough or dirty. Think about if it was freshly painted, because even though the paint might feel dry to the touch, it could still have damp areas that could transfer to your dress. Depending on your location, there could be rough wood or rusty items around that should be avoided. And again, never put your dress on before you style your hair or get a manicure. And on that note, have your manicure done hours before having to put your dress on. Nail polish is not a friendly stain.
ABG: If a bride’s gown does come into contact with an item that leaves a mark, what products do you recommend for a quick touch up?
Rhonda: We recommend that you do nothing. Many products, while appearing to remove a stain, might actually be causing more damage. Spotting a gown could cause the stain to bleed into surrounding areas or leave a ring where the stain was. It is always best to get your gown to the dry cleaner of choice and have them professionally work on the gown. We do see gowns come in after portraits for cleaning. Most people think we can spot clean them, but again, rather than leave rings in the fabric we suggest cleaning the entire gown.
ABG: What types of fabrics are hardest to keep clean?
Rhonda: Silk is the most delicate fabric and hardest to clean. Lace is also difficult especially when it has raised piping.
Photos: Jenna Henderson Photography
(This helpful article was worth resharing. It originally appeared in June 2012 and was written by our former blogger, Lauren.)