Cookie Cutter Weddings

SNL did a wedding venue commercial and it was life!

The thing is, parodies based on truth are funny! One of my favorite things about being a wedding planner in Oregon – our diversity of venues and styles of weddings you can plan. But be very wary of venues that tell you they do everything for you with their own included wedding coordinator.

There is a big difference between a wedding planner and a venue wedding coordinator. When you hire a venue that has an on-site coordinator who will work with you or your own wedding planner to perfectly plan your day, that’s great. They are there to manage the event on behalf of the venue to make sure the vendors you hire are actual businesses, they hold the proper insurance, and will comply with all of the venue rules. They make sure everyone knows when they can arrive, where they can load, what kind of equipment is allowed, and what time they need to clean and load out by.

Your wedding planner is very different. Depending on what you hire them to do they help you select vendors, venues, set a budget, design the decor, menu, and overall flow and details of your wedding. They plan your timeline, organize your processional and ceremony details, read your contracts to determine exactly what you ordered from your vendors, schedule all of your vendors, run your ceremony rehearsal and manage every detail of your wedding set up. They are there to direct the bridal party, vendors and venue staff throughout your wedding, and direct clean up and load out.

I call a venue cookie cutter if they force you to work with their preferred or required or in-house wedding planner, do not at least give you options for catering (they can be in house catering only and not cookie cutter if they offer a lot of options, or if they have select approved catering with diverse styles, expertise and pricing options), limited options for decor and florists, and if they have strictly limited access to the venue on a dictated preset timeline.

Some may wrongly assume a wedding planner wouldn’t like cookie cutter venues because they don’t work with planners – maybe a fair thought but I’m not just any type of planner. I’m the Creative type of planner. The more original a wedding is, the more I love working with that couple on their wedding. I love it when couples are true to themselves, turn timelines and traditions on their head, and think outside of the box. You can’t do that if your entire wedding came pre-packaged in a box set served up to ten other couples in the nearly exact same way, on a busy week.

This is 2019 you have so many options open to you. If you just want to get married, not think about anything and you have a lot of money to spend, hire a full service planner, like us. We’ll provide you the exact wedding you want with very little effort. Show up to some key meetings select from a few options then forget about the worrying part. You don’t have to check anything but your texts or emails from us asking you for final decisions or reminding you of meetings or to pay this amount to a certain vendor that day.

The alternative – hire a venue that does it all, one meeting, tell them your colors and date and budget and which options you like – boom your wedding is pretty much done. If anyone has been to a wedding there before they’ll recognize it.

Tip 1) When hiring a planner, make sure you look at the styles of weddings they’ve done in the past. If their Instagram is filled with nothing but similarly styled photo shoots but their blog has real weddings that look nothing like that type of work, be wary! Planning a 250 guest wedding with 8 bridesmaids and groomsmen, at one or multiple venues, is a lot different than making models look pretty with the help of professional photographers, make up artists, and florists in a perfectly artificially lit studio.

Also, if a planner has nothing but one style of wedding or design they style in their body of work, that planner may not be very creative. Anyone can follow trends, but can they style different styles and types of weddings with traditional and non-traditional timelines, and truly help you get the destinct result you are looking for?

Tip 2) Do you want a very specific style of wedding, and does the planner either match that style or more importantly does the planner show a huge variety in the style and locations of the weddings they’ve planned? I love specific venues. They’re a blank slate and every wedding you design or plan there is or can be completely different. The red flags to watch for – every wedding is at one or two venues. Either that planner just gets a lot of referrals at one or two venues, and enjoys very different events that happen to be in one place, that’s not at all weird. Or they may just be comfortable working with the same few vendors in the same few places. Again, that’s fine if you are not looking for a creatively destinctly you wedding.

I personally love what we do BECAUSE we work with a limited number of couples per year and work with couples who are all so different! Our couples have different planning challenges, styles, venues, and character. A classy beautiful affair at a beloved non-cookie cutter venue, or an extremely large wedding, or an intimate multi venue event, or something totally different on a private estate. We do it all and love every minute of it.

Tip 3) When talking to or meeting with a planner at your first meeting do they ask you detailed questions about all of your ideas and visions for your entire weekend of wedding events? They should want to know a lot about you and your vision. You can’t design or provide valuable recommendations if you don’t know what it is you’re trying to plan. If they seem less interested in your ideal wedding and more interested in convincing you to do your wedding a better way, or different than you are asking, that’s a red flag.

We have lots of opinions and tons of advice on this blog, none of that matters or is valuable to planning YOUR wedding. I don’t love buffets, so what. If you want a buffet you will get the best buffet and I will organize it to run efficiently and smoothly. You want a friend as a photographer, great we’ll connect and I will get them all the info and support they need to be successful. Your planner should not spend time convincing you not to do the things you want. They should work with you to make sure your plan succeeds – provided your ideas are something that should work out just fine.

We hope you find this info useful in understanding what a cookie cutter wedding is and how to avoid them.

Private Estate Wedding Planning

Ali Mae Photography

In Oregon, it’s not weird to have a friend who’s a Congresswoman, have your kid play YMCA ball with the son of the farmers who own a big farm everyone loves on Sauvi Island, or be friends with people who own a nice piece of property in nearby wine country where you can host your wedding.

There are so many fantastic farms and venues open to all to rent out and host events and weddings, but a lot of them book up fast July – October 15th – the absolute start of rainy season. I recently had a bride message me on wedding wire just looking for direction to find the type of venue perfect for her ideal wedding. I gave her a few suggestions, knew right away she’d love one. A few weeks later she messaged me back to say they put off the wedding just to make sure they could do it at that venue.

PS, you can always email me on my website, and even if you just need a good lead on where to look I don’t mind replying with that info. For detailed planning advice and full venue + vendor and budgeting advice I charge $20. But if your venue went under, you just need a lead on anybody who can provide a specific service you can’t find, I’ll usually just give out that advice for free in the non-wedding season. I love helping DIY couples. I’ll even be offering a Bootcamp on how to plan your own wedding, over brunch in April.

But back to my point, what if you want to get married on your schedule not based on availability? The private estate wedding is key. You need to make sure the owner can host a party on their property, find out about noise ordinances, and be willing to offer your friend something in exchange for hosting. That may be money, a lot of help on some home projects, something to donate in memory and honor of their generosity, you know your relationship. But as is the case with all “friends as vendors” don’t ask people to do something this important for nothing.

Hire a Wedding Planner. I’m planning a blog due out shortly on wedding planners vs. venue coordinators. But basically, I’m a firm believer that all large weddings need a wedding planner. All smaller detailed refined weddings need a planner. And when you have the budget or even if you don’t getting any advice from a planner before you sign any contracts is key.

A private estate probably hasn’t seen too many weddings or even similar parties in its day. You need an expert to do a venue visit find all the potential problems that need to be solved before your vendors try to set up on your wedding day. You need a realistic timeline of how many hands will need to help with set up, what tiny details each vendor might need you to consider you might have overlooked, and if you have a life and a job, you need somebody to do all of the calls, emails, and detailed planning bits while you’re at work – so you can afford this massive celebration.

Weddings on a private residence are not cheap! You need rentals, extra restrooms that are pleasant to use, good food, decor and Florals, somebody to design your chair layout and create a balanced aisle. Somebody to direct everything while your mom and sisters, and best friends cherish every moment of your wedding day with you.

You can’t and won’t enjoy your wedding day if you are stressing over set up, and wrong sized table cloths or missing tables, shoes, or wilted flowers. 250 escort cards can take an hour to alphabetize and lay out, are you going to have the time?

At the end of your amazing wedding weekend you will not look back and wish you’d cut that part of your budget.

Please go watch the film and read the blog about Taylor + Lukkes on Glitch films’ blog:

Venue: Private Estate Hillsboro, OR

Planner: Vareus Events

Photographer: Ali Mae Photography

Hair + Makeup: Blossom and Beauty

Dress: The White Dress

Tux: The Black Tux

Flowers: Arranged For You

Live Musician: Anthony Hall

Cake: The Dessert Tray

Desserts: Nothing Bundt Cake

Rentals: The Party Pros

Catering + Bar: Bethany Public House

DIY Planning Tips + Tricks

We are adding new events, blog posts, and services this year during the off season to help all the DIY couples who deserve the help of experts, even if you don’t have the budget to hire a planner.

We’ll have a lot more info coming to help you over the next few months. Follow us on Instagram, subscribe to our mailing list, follow us on Pinterest and watch for new boards related to topics we discuss here (we’ll add relevant links to blogs) and always feel to ask us questions online, by email, in person by joining us at an upcoming event, or right here in the comments.

So let’s get started. You’re engaged, it’s time to get serious about planning. We’ve already discussed the importance of setting a budget first, and choosing the right venue. Now let’s discuss the little things to do to save your sanity on your wedding day.

1) Buy a planning + scheduling guide book or set your own month-by-month to do list

If you attend one of our planning events, or purchase our DIY Planning Package, we will connect you with our digital planning tools and To Do Guide. If you are looking for a book or physical planning guide we recommend The Knot Ultimate Wedding Planner. You can buy one online, or get a gently used or new one at Powell’s. It’s important not to procrastinate. Book your vendors early, or your options will be limited. Stay on track and you’ll have less to worry about as your wedding day approaches.

2) Design Your Wedding Colors, Decor and Feel. Use Social Media To Help You

Creating a custom design is a specialized talent. Creating a color palette, style, and design board is easy – thanks to Pinterest. The trick is to set one specifically named wedding board, and within it break apart and organize elements into subheadings. Share the link to your Pinterest board with your vendors – rental companies, site planners, florists, etc. To start select pictures of ceremony decor you like, centerpieces you want, room set ups and table layouts, cakes and dessert tables, dresses, hair and makeup, flowers + bouquets, and tuxes + suits. Next, start putting in key words, colors, venues, flowers, and start pinning. You can go back and reorganize, delete or change things later.

We can’t stress enough how awesome this tool is for keeping everything in one place to easily share with others. We’ll teach more about this in future workshops.

3) We’ve said it before. We’re saying it again. Create a wedding specific email and social media accounts.

Incorporate your wedding hashtag, mesh your names and create a shared new family social media presence and email account so you can both have access to all of your wedding social media and tools. If you’re using a wedding website incorporate that theme, share save the date and other relevant info and evolve all of this in to your future family page. Keep your personal social for yourself and your own identity. Having one email that can be forwarded to both of your phones prevents you from having to forward ten emails to your future spouse every day and it makes it hard to lose your wedding related info in a sea of work emails.

4) Choose your photographer ASAP.

Please go check out this blog by Georgia Ruth Photography on how to choose the right Photographer for you. After your venue and catering your photographer is the most important vendor you will hire. You have to commit the budget to a good photographer even if you are eloping and having two guests at your wedding. Pay a professional photographer to be there. Budget for photography at the top because in fifty years your photos will still exist and remind you of the best day ever.

5) Invest in your wedding

If you are eloping and have a tiny budget, that’s ok. Still invest in your wedding. Buy a new (or new to you) special dress. Pay a florist to make you some bomb ass flowers. A floral crown, nice boutonnières, a lovely bouquet, treat yourself! It’s worth it. Go get your hair and makeup done. Go to a local salon, or even a Nordstrom makeup counter that morning, last minute if you have to. Just do right by yourself!

If you are planning a large wedding on a tight budget set the budget as high as you comfortably can. The current average price of a new car is $34,000. The average price of a used car is $20,000. We hope you keep your marriage longer than your car. Invest in your wedding! It’s worth every penny. You ideally will never throw a bigger or happier party in your life so do it! Again see the last paragraph, if you are eloping invest accordingly and enjoy your ideal day whatever it looks like. But do not feel guilty or wrong for investing in your wedding.

6) Be true to yourselves. Be bold.

This captures so many things. Please plan a wedding that makes your souls happy. Don’t do traditions you hate. Don’t serve food you think is shit. Don’t go to a venue you don’t love. Don’t have a rehearsal dinner that makes you stabby. Don’t borrow from cultures that aren’t your own or feel compelled to participate in rhelics of the patriarchy that make you cringe. Do what makes the entire experience fun, enjoyable, and soul pleasing for you.

Your venue is only free at 5pm Friday, downtown for a rehearsal and you have 35 people between the bridal party, key family and beloved out of town guests, and you don’t want to eat at an expensive restaurant in a formal setting – you just want a relaxing bbq at home with a brief moment aside at the park around the corner where bridal party members can walk through the ceremony and organize how you’ll line up, do it your way!

Your parents really want you to get married in a church and you don’t want to – don’t! A good compromise is a ring warming ceremony where those who want can warm your rings in their hands and say a private prayer for you in their head, and you can have the non-traditional ceremony and vows while respecting others at the same time.

You don’t want to love, honor and obey anyone, don’t say you do. You don’t want to throw a bouquet or a garter, don’t. Do everything your way.

All that said, don’t be that couple who’s wedding pics go viral on a faux modern wedding blog, because you wrongly appropriated somebody else’s cultural traditions, or you thought a homophobic “prank” would be funny. Just don’t.

And finally, be bold. Have a Man Of Honor, three groomsmen, no bridesmaids, or just ten of your favorite humans randomly standing on either side up front with you because they love you both. Use bold colors everywhere in your design. Let them eat pie and boozy pops, and ice cream instead of cake. Plan a wedding weekend starting with a wild home bbq, a ceremony wherever floats your boat – maybe quite literally on a boat, followed by a buyout of your favorite restaurant for the reception with no dancing, and a rad after-party at your favorite club or dive bar or in a ballroom or industrial venue space turned cocktail dance party with late night snacks.

7) Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Reduce waste at your wedding. Instead of a ton of arch flowers that will die and go to waste use a dried statement sculpture as a backdrop. Use pieces at the ceremony that can be reused at your reception. Have your designer create pieces that can move from altar to sweetheart or head table. Or if your ceremony and reception happen in the same place use your ceremony backdrop as the backdrop to your sweetheart table.

Put floating candles and varying height vases of water at guest book and escort card tables and place bridesmaid bouquets in them for the reception. They can still take them home at the end of the night.

Have aisle designs in easy to move containers that can be moved from the ceremony aisle to the center of each table. You can add more flowers and accents to fill out the space but leave room in the center for easy room switch action.

Don’t buy junk favors. If you do favors, use something that can double as a place card or extra decor at your tables, or a snack they can eat now.

Do plated dinner service. There’s always so much leftover and waste involved with wedding buffets. Make sure your caterer has a plan to donate excess.

Let your bridesmaids rent the dress. Everyone seems cool with men renting suits and they seem to forget your bridesmaids can rent, too. Rent The Runway, and others have a huge selection and they’re easy to use. Or have them buy an outfit they’ll actually wear again and consider their budget.

Use decor pieces that are dead or living. Dried flowers or potted plants > centerpieces that will die tomorrow. If using living pieces reduce waste by using pieces that transport easy, you can send them home with guests, or they can be reused the next morning at a goodbye brunch.

SOTU Drinking Game 2019: We’re Sorry This Is Real Life

A little more back story about me. I used to be a part of the Democratic Party of Oregon House Party Team back in the Carry Oregon and Obama Days. I also used to be a Community Organizer for Obama’s first Primary Campaign, running canvases out of my house every weekend, and then throughout his entire time in office. So obviously, I have strong political opinions and yes I’ve met Barack Obama – more life changing for me I’ve HUGGED Michelle Obama.

All that said, I am a political junky. I love the weird things about politics, wonky things like land use policy, funding our schools and roads. I may be the PTO President of the second largest high school in Oregon (but I do that very non-politically and just because I have had a kid or two in that school for the past six years). I am not a fan of POTUS (this is an understatement but I’m playing nice) and I will be watching the SOTU tonight.

For starters, my lovely friend, Representative Suzanne Bonamici, has one of my best friend’s daughters at the SOTU as a guest. This isn’t because of who she knows, it’s because her daughter was very active in the student lead March 4 Our Lives Portland last year, and has taken her energy to the next level as a student activist for other causes mostly effecting women and minorities. She’s an awesome young woman, she gave a speech in front of thousands here in Portland for March 4 Our Lives, and we are all super proud of Alexandria!

Second, I’ve watched the SOTU every year since I can remember. It can be painful, but it is important to know what is happening in our world, even if what’s happening is scary, shitty, disgraceful, sad, or just boring. Man, I miss boring politics.

Third, my children are descended from people who migrated here from Sweden and Norway on my side, and lots of places including Mexico on my husband’s side. My husband’s great grandparents were field workers from Mexico working on his great-grandparent’s farm. You did read that right, it seems confusing. But his genetic great-grandparents died in the flu pandemic in the 1920s, leaving an infant daughter with no family. His great grandparents (not by birth) adopted their daughter, my husband’s grandmother, and raised her as one of their own beloved children. For my family with roots founded in Southern California, where our own children of Mexican heritage were born, border policy isn’t a political whipping stick or a way to get people with racism in their heart to vote for you.

I’ll be live tweeting the SOTU from my personal account and at our house we’ll be playing our own SOTU 2019 Drinking Game Courtesy of your’s truly. Play along if you like. Sorry, you have to watch to play. Or just read my twitter feed and I’ll try to keep up and stay sober enough to type coherently, but I’m not driving anywhere so it will all be ok!

The 2019 SOTU Drinking Game Rules

Hopefully, you are watching in a group and laughing at the ridiculousness of life in 2019 where Donald Trump is actually the President of the United States. If so, break up in to two groups, these groups are not based on your own political opinions all can play well together on either side (unlike dysfunctional D.C.) the first group will be called “We’re Down with AOC” and the other team will be called “Choosing Greatness” – I’m not kidding this is the self-described Theme of the speech.

Take a sip of the drink of your choice (it can be non-alcoholic, too) just be safe and don’t drink and drive.

Drink If Any Of The Following Under Your Side:

We’re Down With AOCChoosing Greatness
If none of the Dems clap at
an intended applause line
If Anyone audibly boos or
If the camera pans in on
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
If the camera focuses on Brett
If Trump says “Nancy Pelosi”If Trump mentions “Kevin
If Trump says “The Democrats”
followed by anything negative
If Trump claims to be the
greatest at anything
If Trump mentions “DACA”
or “Dreamers”
If Trump mentions “The Wall”
If Trump mentions our allies
literally “Germany, England
France, Canada”
If Trump mentions his
friends “Russia”
If Trump discusses any issues
positive for women
If Trump hates on choice,
or women in general
If Trump discusses racismIf Trump says something racist
If Trump bullies or calls
anyone a Trumpian Nickname
drink twice
If Trump mentions “bullying”
If he says “Be Best” drink twice

#PhotosAtYourWedding – Capturing a Moment & Giving The People What They Want

The photo booth trend at receptions, is dying out and being replaced by semi-custom Snapchat filters, hashtags to use on all social platforms, and more naturally or professionally set obvious photo backdrop spaces.

Instead of goofy props and curtains, your guests want an amazing photo of themselves, themselves with you, or something aesthetically befitting an insta feed – not just a story shot that will hopefully die in 24 hours, never to be seen by any human again. Ever (your welcome btw for sharing an actual photobooth session shot of myself and my husband, which shouldn’t be featured anywhere but there you go!)

Think of what experiences you’ve loved and wanted to share on social media. If you hire wedding llamas, everyone’s going to want pictures with them. If you’ve paid for a spectacular view of Mt. Hood your guests are going to want to pose for pictures with that view. If you have an amazingly decorated industrial space, your guests will want people to know they were there, it was boujee, and they looked fantastic! Your planner can help you find the perfect spot at your venue walk through, design a space inviting and set for photos and the area will serve function and a purpose. Small accents, Florals, dried floral installations or wreaths as a backdrop, professionally designed signs, special lounge seating area rentals – can all enhance your photo op location without having a literal neon sign saying “Photos Here”.

People want a hashtag. They want to know the hashtag. They want to share their love for you and @ you. They want it to be something they don’t cringe putting on their social, and they want everyone to know they actually love you most of all, by tagging you and using your hashtag.

Speaking of, seriously create a wedding gmail account. You can set the account to forward messages to your regular email. It helps keep everything sorted, it can be your hashtag name, and used for wedding webpages, rsvp tracking, etc. Set up a wedding/couple insta account for the wedding and evolve it into your future family account. If you don’t already have a Snapchat, get a wedding account if for no other reason than to accommodate all your guests who do by giving them a semi-custom filter for their stories.

Also, can I just be honest with you (sorry to all my favorite photo booth vendors you are fantastic and I love you at so many types of events, weddings just aren’t one of them) you’ve hopefully paid a fantastic photographer to take pictures at your wedding. And I hope you’ve paid them to have a second shooter. I also hope you’ve paid them more than you’ve paid me because I want the pictures they take to be the absolute best photos you have ever, or will ever see of yourselves and your loved ones in your lifetime, potentially. And as such, they are going to get some of the most breathtaking, raw emotion filled, absolutely jaw dropping photos of you and your favorite people throughout the event. All that said, some people know their friends like photo booths. Consider a fotobus or other photo booth experience to remember. Or better yet, do your after-party at your favorite bar that already has a photo booth. We have a lot of those in Portland!

Did You Enjoy Caffeteria Lunches?

Do not do a buffet at your wedding. I know you won’t listen to me, and you’ll still do a buffet, so many of you do it. Everyone gets a little confused when I say this because first of all their caterers almost always try to sell them on a buffet package up front – because it’s easy and what’s usually done at the venue, blah, blah, blah. Or my favorite excuse, but every wedding I’ve been to had a buffet. I’m sure you really enjoyed the experience, too. No!

No guest in the history of ever has ever enjoyed a wedding buffet line. And if they say they have they are just being kind. Buffets are what you do at a conference ballroom luncheon, or in Vegas, or while your visiting grandma. Or in a hospital, or back in elementary school in the caffeteria. They are not classy, rarely awesome, and usually something you manage to avoid every other day of your life – so why do it at your very awesome, classy, expensive wedding? With that we’d like to discuss one of our favorite trends of 2019 – Family Style Dinners!

Ellie Asher Photography @ The Elder Hall

There are several amazing restaurants in Portland. And hands down Ned Ludd is on the top five list of anyone who’s been to Ned Ludd from anywhere on the planet. So if you go with a group, do order the Family style meal and enjoy every second of your night.

Two of my couples did family style last year. One was at Ned Ludd’s Elder Hall, the other was a pizza wedding at a private residence vineyard and farm, both were amazing!

One of the many great pluses of serving family style meals, your guests get served a meal  Instead of feeling like they’re back in school at lunch, hoping there will still be fish sticks left when you get to the front of the line. Think of Thanksgiving, people are chatting and passing and happy and not a single person is waiting in a line. There are options and choices still, but they’re all right here – in reach. Your table decor becomes more about being practical and sparse, which allows you to spend on fewer more beautiful pieces for your centerpieces.

Family style may cost a little more per person than plated, guess what so do many buffets. Basically, if you are having a casual bbq style meal on a farm, go ahead do a buffet, because it fits the food being served. But do not convince yourself that you are having a fancy wedding with great food AND a buffet.

If your wedding is in a ballroom, anything less than plated, is just strange. If your venue is a fine vineyard with an amazing offering of wines, why would you think a buffet is an acceptable meal? If your wedding is industrial and modern, why would you bring in a stuffy old fashioned buffet? When I think industrial and modern I think amazing farm to table local family-style experiences that will make your guests remember their meal.


What about if your friends get hungry later? First there is the dessert table, because everyone is over serving a giant cake. That can be set up as a mini self serve station. In fact stations and food carts are an awesome alternative to a buffet. You can and should absolutely take advantage of a large venue by offering multiple genres of food in stations or at different carts as opposed to a traditional seated dinner. This option is most appropriate at farm/outdoor or very large open plan industrial venues.

Small stations are an awesome addition to any wedding for cocktail hours, early daytime weddings, brunch weddings, and late reception snack options. If you’re having an after-party or meet up at a favorite bar or club after the reception, make sure you offer a snack (passed or at a small station) near the end of the reception. Plan on having enough for only about a third of your total guest list because not everyone will need or want a snack. And don’t worry about options and variety, some sliders or corn dogs and popcorn is good enough.



Trends for 2019

We’ve been super busy meeting with this year’s couples, designing concepts and designs, and planning for the 2019 wedding season. Also producing quotes and proposals.

Part of that process is studying the trends and how to plan guides, for the perfect 2019 wedding. The ideas are being flung at us all over social and traditional media. We’ve studied so you don’t have to! So let’s break it down.

1) Do have a Sweetheart Table, make sure it stands out, and is placed in a spot where you can escape but also view all the action: Here’s why, you will want to enjoy every single second of this day and spend any of the moments you can together, alone. Also, your bridal party likely wants to sit with their family and not at an awkward head table.



So what do I mean by making sure your sweetheart table stands out? Besides the obvious that it should physically stand alone as a reception focal point, it may also be draped with distinct linens, and if in the same space as your ceremony in a room that has been flipped during the cocktail hour, it may also use your altar decor as a dual purposed backdrop. Use dishes, candles, and decor that match the guest tables, but that you can keep at the end of the night to cherish forever

As a woman who’s been married 21 years, I can promise you will cherish the distinct pieces you have at your table, and smile every time you use them!

2) Iridescent decor:

We’re partial to the Anthropologie wine goblets, and think you should be, too:



It’s impractical to provide these to all of your guests so again we go back to point one do have a distinct sweetheart table! For your guest tables use the standard catering wine glasses but incorporate the cohesive look by adding floral decor pieces with this type of glass:


Which takes us to the next trend

3) Everything does not have to match!

Your bridesmaids dresses don’t have to match. They can be similar styles in different colors or patterns that together, make sense. They can all be the same length, or color but otherwise different.

Your Groomsmen do not need to match. They can all wear different suits, or the same suit and different ties. Whatever, just make sure they tie in with whomever they are paired with during your ceremony.

Your bridal party flowers don’t need to match. One of our favorite trends is bouquets that don’t match. Again maybe they’re all the same color pallet, but the key flowers vary from bouquet to bouquet. Or maybe the greenery is the same but every bouquet has different colored flowers to match the different colored bridesmaids dresses. Maybe every boutonnière and suit, is different:


Your centerpieces don’t have to match. Neither do your guest table shapes. You could have round and rectangle tables. Some of your tables could have round designs, some could have long designs.

Your tablecloths don’t have to match. You could incorporate multiple colors or patterns that work well together.

The trick is to be cohesive, the items should belong together and be tied together, but you don’t need your reception tables drenched in the same exact tone of pink. Or coral. Or blue.

4) Colorful taper candles: Lots of candle lighting is still hot, but the tall tapers are making a comeback. Many venues will not let you have an open flame, make sure you know the rules at your venue. You can use glass hurricanes around them to get around this problem, or stick to the enclosed pillars or floating candles.

Choosing a Venue

Ali Mae Photography

One of the many reasons to love weddings in Portland – you can host a wedding in the city in an industrial building, ballroom, or hotel; close in at any of our farms or vineyards; out to the coast; in to the Gorge with its brilliant waterfalls and majestic greenery; or up Mount Hood for a classic rustic wedding.

Powers Studios

Powers Studios

We’ve been terrible about blogging – sorry about that but we’re busy people planning weddings and meeting with newly engaged couples for the next big wedding season.

Deyla Huss Photography

Deyla Huss Photography

If you are newly engaged and looking for a venue there are a lot of things to consider.  While we wish everyone would hire an expert like us to sit down with you , go over the numbers, your vision and your dreams and then help set a budget and give you all of the relevant vendor and venue recommendations accordingly (our getting started package for only $200 – a downright bargain). If you are doing it yourself, here are some tips and tricks for finding the right place for you:

  1. Set a Budget FIRST – Don’t start looking at venues, fall in love with one, put a deposit down and then realize you absolutely can’t afford the wedding you wanted. How do you set a budget? Start by gathering the details of how much total money you have to spend on your wedding. The average is around $25,000 for 100 – 150 guests. While that might sound like a lot of money, the average new car costs $36,000, according to Forbes. I hope you plan to be married longer than you intend to drive your car. Your marriage is a worthwhile celebratory investment so if you can find the means to fund the wedding exactly as you want it, that is exactly what you should do. That said, averages mean nothing if your parents will be contributing $5,000 and you don’t have access to $20,000 or the ability to finance that much.

Ellie Asher Photography

Ellie Asher Photography


2.Create a guest list – You’ve always wanted to get married downtown in a quaint industrial space. Cool! But if your guest list is 250 people long, you’re going to need to be limited in your options. If your guest list is 60 people you will possibly have way too much space to fill and feel a bit awkward. That’s no where near as awkward as putting a deposit down on a space, assuming 100 guests then writing out your guest list down the road only to realize you can’t fit your must invites in the space you picked, much less your want to invites, and forget about work friends there’s no room

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Elisa Ivers

View More:
Elisa Ivers

3. Be flexible with your date, or don’t – We get that some people absolutely must have their wedding date be 4 – 20 – 19 because you don’t ever want to forget your anniversary, or how you met. Cool, cool! But hey, your dream venue is booked that date and now you have looked at 20 venues you really like but they’re all booked. This is getting frustrating and overwhelming and you might have to get married in mom and dad’s backyard or elope on a hill somewhere – or compromise on the date. Everyone wants to get married in the summer warm months. Please do this if you want to get married on a farm or in the Gorge outside, but if you like industrial indoor venues, why? Get married in October, or November, or please have a beautiful holiday wedding. Everyone wants to get married when the kids are out of school – even though unless they are immediate family or you are having a dry wedding why the hell are you inviting kids? Let your friends enjoy a night off to have fun and celebrate!

Danae Jones Photography

Danae Jones Photography

4. Determine your wedding style – What does this even mean? Well if you want a tropical floral and decor design, and Pacific NW/Asian fusion cuisine, your ideal venue is fairly open with the right expert planner/designer and caterer, but if you want a black tie formal affair with lots of candles and staged lighting, and you want to get married in July at a farm venue that requires all of your vendors to be loaded and out by 10:00 pm, I have questions.

Happy Planning!

Ask An Expert

It feels like a lot of couples are nervous to ask an expert for advice or pricing details, or basically just questions they’re afraid we’ll find silly. Don’t worry, we understand this day is a very big deal, not something you do every day, and most of us WANT to help you.

If you’ve never priced wedding flowers, feel free to email me inspiration pictures, details about your wedding and questions about pricing. You can do that by email and I will happily take the time to give you realistic cost information for a design you like. If you have a set budget and want to know what you can do for that budget, I’m happy to tell you.

By nature we can’t tell people without information how much their design will cost, because it depends on your date, flowers and colors and design style, so trust me we’re happy to answer your questions.

Need a quote? Contact us now with inspiration pics, details of your wedding and bridal party, and we can help!