“I Love it When You Call Me Big Papa”

There are two things  every couple should stop doing now – skimping on the bar and designing their wedding and traditions around the photography.

So let’s fix two problems at once, please have a hosted cocktail hour for your guests. Serve them passed hors d’ouevres if it is a classy elegant evening wedding and provide them with a lovely Charcuterie spread or fun tapas style stations if it is an afternoon, laid back, farm, vineyard, or garden wedding.

Always, and I mean absolutely always provide your guest with hosted beverages (within limits). A cash bar is great for charity events never at a wedding! That doesn’t mean you should supply your guests with all the top shelf liquor or a truly open bar, they can buy their own random favorites. It means who are you as a couple? Where did you meet? What’s your favorite drink? What do you do for fun? Incorporate that in to your hosted bar options.

If you love to drive to Hood River and drink a Double Mountain Kolsch on the patio while waiting for your meaty pizza, then serve YOUR favorite brew at your reception, throw in some catered pizza bites if you want. Do you enjoy quiet Saturdays at Colene Clemens, tasting their fantastic local wines? Serve your guests a glass of their Margo Pinot.

If your favorite drink is a Sangria Aunt Sally makes every 4th of July, give your bartender the recipe. If your favorite bar to meet up at after a long work day, is North 45 Pub, then please order The Big Poppa, and give a shout out to our old school roots by serving your guests your own version.

Now let’s be honest, there’s a reason you come late to your best friends’ parties. If you come on time everything is awkward. They’re neighbor who voted for Trump is there early with the campaign hat on. Your friend is distracted, still putting out the food, the dogs are overly excited by every new arrival, and nobody has had time to relax a bit with a drink. So while your friends are all preoccupied drying their happy tears, making small chat with people they’ve never met, and warming up with a drink, you should be taking your couple and complete bridal party photos.

We don’t avoid having the couple see each other before the ceremony because we are traditionalists or old fashioned. And we don’t believe all the bad luck of twelve broken mirrors will doom your wedded bliss if you take pictures together before the ceremony. The honest brutal truth is nobody should deny the couple that amazingly overwhelmingly powerful moment when you see the person you are about to marry, for the first time, as they come in to view walking down the aisle.

Your pictures are monumentally important, but not half as important as the commitment of love you are making to each other at this exact moment. It is life changing, profound and will rock you to your core when you do it right. Nothing else matters in this day, just you. Your joining together.

So what I’m saying is do all the pre-ceremony photos you can without the couple being together in the same space. After the ceremony, spend a few minutes signing the official documents and then pose for photos together and with your entire bridal party – while your guests are enjoying the cocktail hour with food, libations, and games.

Don’t forget the entertainment. And if you don’t have a wedding planner, make sure your ushers and bridesmaids lead the party to the cocktail area with your parents, while the couple, officiant, best man and maid of honor make it legal.

Have the photographer capture this moment. Here’s a great reason to hire a team of two photographers for the day, one can take candids of the cocktail hour while the other is taking posed photos of the couple. After the two of you get some quality couple shots, your wedding planner will bring the bridal party back for final group photos. This entire process should only take 45 minutes, max.

At the end of cocktail hour, your wedding planner will send the parents back to your guests they should only be missing for fifteen minutes tops. It is their job to host the guests while you are busy.

Make sure you have entertainment for the cocktail hour. What could that be? It’s Portland, get creative! Have lawn games, a photo booth, a social media #hashtagged photo contest or scavenger hunt. If it’s outdoors, set up stations to direct your guests to mingle and explore. Hire a jazz quartet, a small marching band or fire dancers. Is your reception at a hotel? Hire a jazz singer and host it in a staged piano bar set-up. You have actually talented friends right? Ask them to entertain and wow everyone.

You can have your guests directed to move in to the reception area before your grand entrance. Or you can slide in to the cocktail hour and mingle. If you wait to do a grand entrance at your reception and opt to skip the cocktail hour, make sure the serving staff brings your bridal party drinks and a snack during the cocktail hour because you don’t want to forget to eat.

If transportation is required between your ceremony and cocktail hour send the parents with your guests but keep the rest of the bridal party with you. You can snap a few posed family photos with the parents and couple at the very end of the ceremony as you sneak back into the church after your guests have left. Have your ushers direct guests to leave for the cocktail hour.

Great Planning Tip: Many area churches have gardens or other spaces appropriate for a cocktail hour. You can host your cocktail hour at the church. If your reception will follow at an area hotel, you may save a great deal of money on the catering portion of your bill by hosting a cocktail hour in the garden. Local bartender service vendors will often let you provide them with kegs, specialty cocktail items, and wine and charge you a lot less then the per drink costs of a hosted cocktail hour at a hotel or cater included venue. After your pictures are done your guests will celebrate you as you lead the way to the venue with a parade, go by bike – it’s Portland, or meet back up in a few at your reception site.

*money saving tips:

  1. Set up a DIY photo spot with signs directing guests to post pictures with your #hashtag on social media. You can save on photography costs if your guests are snapping great candids while the professional is staging your posed photos.
  2. Have your ceremony at an open church. They allow other officiants to handle the ceremony, you don’t have to rent chairs or spend as much to decorate, and they often will throw in a cocktail hour space for a huge deal.
  3. BYOB – you provide the beer, wine and signature cocktails, your bartender does the rest.
  4. Order your cocktail hour trays from New Seasons or Costco and semi DIY for the cocktail hour at the church.
  5. Host your ceremony and cocktail hour in an area park for many of the same cost-savings of a church.
  6. Do every staged photo you can before the ceremony, leaving only ten – fifteen posed photos left to check off after the ceremony.

Brides for a Cause

Weddings can be very expensive, and if you have the money – that is ok. In fact, we encourage you to appreciate the value in this investment. A wedding is more than just a party, and you, your partner, and supporting family members are not throwing away money, you are building something new and fantastic. With every penny you invest in your wedding you are making choices to support your local community business leaders, and you are investing in your community.

The wedding business is semi-recession proof in that people will always get married. But that doesn’t mean all wedding businesses will last. And the decisions you make from your venue, florist, planner, to your wedding dress purchase, will have a true impact on your community. Amazing right? While some will tell you to feel guilty about the waste of wedding expenses, I say ask them – what did you do to help support your local community and charitable causes today?

Our corporate office may be growing and small, but we are a local company and we believe in a lifestyle of supporting our community. Through years of involvement with community boards to support education and other causes we believe in, to a determination to donate to causes we believe in, specifically promoting local schools, science education for our youth, and the arts, as individuals we believe in giving to a variety of causes every year, too.

In that spirit, today I’d like to highlight a perfect example of how investing your wedding budget in local businesses and choosing venues and vendors who support the community through charity, can make this investment in your future meaningful to the broader community you love. Brides for a Cause is an example of how your budget can give back.

Here’s how it works, brides and bridal shops donate barely used or brand new (tag still on) dresses to Brides for a Cause, as a non-profit 501 (c)(3) they then sell the gowns to brides in their Portland Salon, and the proceeds go to help causes that help women in your community. One of the benefactors of their efforts this year is Abby’s Closet. As a PTO mom of high schoolers, I appreciate this because I’ve seen first-hand how hard it is for some of our Seniors to feel they can participate in all of their end-of-high school celebrations, while they are trying to figure out how to afford a college education! What do they do? They take in new and like-new used prom dresses and put on an annual event at the Portland Convention Center to connect teens to dresses – so no Senior has to feel that the cost of a dress is an opsticle to attending their prom.

Seriously, their hours are drop in, no appointment. No matter your budget, every bride should start here when looking for a dress. At worst, you don’t find your dress, but you get an idea of what you love. At best, you get a deal and support your community. And for the bride on a budget or looking to elope, this is a fantastic option for you. They have a huge selection in various sizes in stock. Odds are good you could find a perfect for you dress with very little stress or wait.

Brides for a Cause
2505 SE 11th Ave, Suite 120
Portland, OR 97202

(503) 282-4000

Store Hours
Monday-Saturday 10am-4pm
Sunday 11am-4pm

With a Little Style On Top

Couples used to be boring. They all placed one of five plastic cheesy toppers on their plain white stacked and layered wedding cakes. Today’s couples have options.

While many still top their cakes with floral designs, the topper is making a huge comeback but with originality, and style.

Which brings us to our favorite find of the week, artist Ann Wood and her brilliant handmade cake toppers. We fancy the flamingos, but understand how it doesn’t fit with every wedding design. For you more traditionalists who are also completely unique, what’s more perfect than ava & finn? Oh yes, queenie & french.


Prom 2017

It’s almost time for Prom in Portland, and we’re here to tell you what the trends are thing. Thankfully, Prom has changed since we were kids. Today’s teens can go bold with beautiful floral patterns, lace And sparkle everywhere, and two piece ball gowns that will make any teen feel like they aren’t trying to grow up too fast – even if college is right around the corner.

This Spring, Prom dresses will be in soft Tiffany green, sparkled with bling and see-through barely-there  nudes, golden metallic, covered in romantic lace, and if it’s a ball gown it will be in two pieces.

Light Tiffany green is almost as prevelant as bold florals in Prom 2017 trends. We love Tiffany as much as your next Audrey Hepburn fan, but if you don’t want your prom group photos to look like 2005 wedding party pics with everyone exactly the same, maybe look away from the beautiful perfection that is this color.

We didn’t really enjoy last year’s trend of completely open backs with bare skin cut-outs on the sides, not because we are prudes, but it just didn’t look comfortable or flawless. This year designers have kept the appearance of open flow and sparkle, without all the stress. Using lace and barely-there nudes, all while keeping the open backs, designers have nailed the perfect open look. It’s brilliant, and we think dancing will be a lot more fun if nobody is afraid things will not remain where they belong.

As teens in the 90s, every dress trend was big and puffy. Puffy giant bows, puffy giant sleeves, or best ever, the Juliet look where you could have been nine months pregnant or a size two and worn the exact same dress. It wasn’t cute. Today’s teens mostly trend toward form-fitting or soft ball gowns, but when they go big and princessy, they do it in two pieces. The tops can be covered in jewels and lace, or simple and sleek. The bottoms are either bold and colorful, or princess cupcake style with layers of tulle. It’s a sweet young look, we appreciate. Your Seniors may want to look more grown up, and we guess that’s to be expected as most of them are adults now.

Finally, let’s talk Hollywood romance and glam inspired. As we all saw as we watched this year’s award season of red carpet fashions, gold metallic or lace overlays everywhere is the biggest trend of 2017. We love Hollywood for this! We can’t think of anyone who shouldn’t wear gold, it is beautiful on every skin tone, hair color and body-type. And lace in any color, well we are in the wedding business, so always lace is our favorite thing.

Where to shop for Prom in Portland:

  1. Our favorite is Christella’s. They’ve recently moved to Vernonia, but the snow is gone and it’s a beautiful drive we think is totally worth it. Make sure you set an appointment. 
  2. Charlotte’s Bridal Fashion -conveniently located right near Jesuit High School, it’s an easy drive for most of the Metro Market Area. Set an appointment.
  3. The Vault – vintage dress shop in Beaverton.
  4. Xtabay Vintage, specializing in vintage masterpieces. They have limited hours and you may want to call ahead.

Your event needs a website

It isn’t easy for everybody to make a website, but the truth is there are so many integrated user-friendly services out there that absolutely anyone can afford to add a website to their event budget.

While Vareus Events offers complete website designs and packages, and we handle all of the details with our complete planning package, we also want to help every couple understand that DIY couples can truly do it themselves.

If you’ve never created a webpage, www.wordpress.com or www.squarespace.com, while user friendly (don’t get me wrong) might be a lot to take on. Let’s face it, you have a ton to do right now and spending hours to create a basic site, probably isn’t the best way to save money. You will forget things, code something incorrectly, or end up looking like you exactly copied Sarah & Johnny’s wedding from 2015, and Frank and Terri’s from 2016. Nobody wants to be “that guy”.

A tip for the couple who doesn’t have a lot of time or extra money, use a website generating platform, like www.minted.com. Their site is super easy to use, and you can create a guest list, invitation and website – all merged together on one platform. You’ll be able to track your RSVPs, add travel tips and info for out-of town guests, gift registry info, and event details. And best of all, you don’t need to know anything about how to build a website and you don’t have to be tech savvy. While it can incorporate your invitations if you purchase them through their site, the down side – it is still a standardized non-custom website.

One thing everyone needs to stop doing today…

We know we are more tech savvy and in to social media than many people in their 20s-40s… occupational hazard and all. But seriously, there is something everyone from brides to event industry giants need to stop doing, today.

We live on Twitter. Our founders have been on twitter since before the kids today knew how to use a cell phone. Even before everyone had a smart phone and an app for twitter, we were using TweetDeck on our ancient desk tops. So listen to us when we say stop linking to Facebook posts or pages from twitter.

Some different forms of social media work well together, some are owned by the same parent company. While tweeting a link to your fb post might save you time, it absolutely kills your click throughs from twitter and annoys those of us who want to feel like you’ve gotten to the instant point on twitter.

The whole point of twitter is to satisfy those of us with a short attention span. We want you to show and tell us every bit of your key points – instantly. And if that messaging is on key, we’ll click through to your blog post or home page and love you for not sending us to Facebook, where we will be forced to read about Aunt Sally’s political views or Cousin Terri’s workout routine.