The Oblivious Bride: The Engagement Story

Hello blog readers!  My name is Jenny Fong and I am the Marketing and Business Development Manager for The Wedding Lens.  I joined The Wedding Lens team in December and have been working mostly behind the scenes.  Well, on April 3rd, 2010, my boyfriend, Chris, proposed!  So like the old TV commercial says:   I’m not just a Wedding Lens employee, I’m also a client!

Will you be my disco queen? – An Engagement Story

Chris and I met on New Year’s Eve 2006-2007.  We were both invited to a week-long cabin trip to South Lake Tahoe organized by a mutual friend.  Earlier this year, the same mutual friend was planning…yep…another South Lake Tahoe cabin trip.  We signed up, as did 23 of our friends, knowing it would be epic weekend.  By the way, one thing you have to understand about this group of friends – whenever we have a chance to dress up, we do!  So our party planner extraordinaire declared Saturday night to be 70’s night.  Chris and I dug into our costume box to find our outrageous disco gear –my go-go dancer costume, his polyester pants and brown leather jacket.  Another friend was supplying my blond wig and fake eyelashes.  The last thing I expected in this outfit was a proposal!

As the group was getting dolled up to hit the casinos, Chris asked me to come outside to the deck with him.  There, overlooking beautiful Lake Tahoe, just across the shore from Kings Beach where Chris grew up, he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him!  But I was so shocked and not expecting the proposal that my first words were, “Are you kidding me????  Yes!!!  But are you kidding me????”

While we were talking on the deck, Chris’ accomplice inside, our mutual friend, was telling the rest of our group what was happening.  When we came back inside, we walked into raucous cheers, complete with champagne toasts.  The rest of the night was a fabulous disco celebration – crazy wigs and all!

Wigs, polyester, and an engagement ring

Sharing the Memories

The very next day, I realized I needed to start telling my family and friends about our engagement before it leaked on Facebook!  But I knew it would be hard to explain the costume party proposal over the phone.  Plus, I was busy getting proposed to and did not have the photos on my own camera – they were all on my friends’ cameras.  So I started my album on The Wedding Lens and asked the other cabin guests to upload their photos and videos from the weekend.  I added a few close-up photos of the ring and sent the album to all my loved ones.  With The Wedding Lens, all of our friends and family got to see our engagement as if they were there with us!

Unlike other photo sharing sites, I could easily capture group photos in a single location.  This is just one of the many reasons why The Wedding Lens is better for couples getting married!

Out of Our Element…

As you can tell, Chris and I are not very conventional.  We love our crazy, quirky friends and we like to have fun.  But we have a bit of a problem when it comes to wedding planning.  I’m more interested in going to a sports bar to watch my beloved California Golden Bears than dressing up in designer digs.  I am more comfortable in jeans than a skirt, and I don’t know the difference between chameuse and chiffon.  Even though I work for The Wedding Lens, I have never had an idea about my dream wedding, so we’re starting this process with a completely blank slate.  As I wade through these decisions and go through the process of planning a wedding, I’ll be sharing my thoughts and lessons learned through this blog.  I’m calling it “The Oblivious Bride” and I hope my stories will help others who might feel just as lost as I am.

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Planning to Get Married in Vegas?

AS I mentioned last week, a friend of The Wedding Lens is planning to get married AND in Las Vegas! Not because they’re getting married quickly, but because the couple has family the Vegas and wants to be close to the family. So the question is — if you’re not trying to get in to a quick Elvis wedding, what do you need to do to get married in Las Vegas?

Wedding Ceremony (not necessarily in Vegas!) photo from The Wedding Lens!

First, there are lots of convention centers and hotels, of course. But there are tons of churches and restaurants too — that are OFF the strip! Check out some of the romantic wedding locations that are just off the strip and provide beautiful scenery. There are also a whole slew of “Off the Beaten Path” suggestions to look at that might give some good ideas.

Second, know the legal requirements: Once you get your venue, get a marriage license! Appear together at the Marriage License Bureau (201 Clark Avenue, (702) 671-0600). You can download a marriage license application from the web and learn more about the legal requirements at http://www.accessclarkcounty.com/depts/clerk/pages/marriage_information.aspx.

Third, keep in mind a few things:
  • If you get married in the summer, remember that it’s hot. Don’t just remember this because your guests will want to be indoors and air-conditioned, remember this because your cake will melt. Seriously.
  • Book early. Many people want to hitched in Vegas, so places fill up quick — especially if you want to get married on the strip. Yes, even by Elvis.
  • Make sure caterers are allowed at your venue OR that you like the food that the venue serves. That’s always true, but sometimes it’s harder to find venues that allow outside catering. Just make sure.

For everything else, it’s about the same: find the florist, the other vendors, you know… plan your wedding and be sure you keep in mind our tips for the day of your wedding & for staying calm!

Got more questions? Just ask!  Email me at natasha@theweddinglens.com.

~ Natasha

How to Plan Your Wedding: When To Do What (Part II)

The last blog post I wrote was all about how to plan your wedding — from moment of engagement until the final steps. What I didn’t include were things to know for the day of and miscellaneous things that come up whilst planning your wedding. That’s what I’m going to do here!

For the Day

  1. Put other people in charge! Your wedding party and friends and family should be able to help you with some last minute things that need to happen. Also, be sure that you don’t forget any of the top 5 things people forget! This means that you should make sure you have things like safety pins, bandaids, and tissues. But also make sure someone takes care of your personal stuff (like your camera).
  2. Someone will need to: set-up the guestbook, give money to vendors (and be sure to tip the vendors!), transport flowers, hold emergency items, put out the favors, and place cards with the info on your online photo album website!
  3. Remember to EAT during the reception!
  4. Clean-up & Recycling. Make sure you put people in charge of cleaning up and/or recycling. This should be planned for in advance, but someone in the wedding party should make sure it gets done — especially if it’s not something the venue does for you. By the way, consider donating leftovers to a foodbank.
  5. Stay calm, have fun, and enjoy the moments! Here are some tips for staying calm & tips to make sure you enjoy every moment.

Miscellaneous Wedding Planning

I referred to some of these aspects of wedding planning in the Part I, but here’s everything compiled:

  1. Children-free weddings:
    1. whether to have children or not
    2. how to tell your guests that their children may not attend.
  2. Registries:
    1. what to do about wedding gifts (generally – for both you & the guests)
    2. tips on the gift registry
    3. how to tell people where you’re registered
    4. how to ask for gift cards or money instead of gifts
    5. how to deal with anonymous or unlabeled gifts
    6. what to do if you need to return or exchange a gift
  3. Wedding insurance
    1. All about wedding insurance
  4. Showers, Bachelor/Bachelorette Parties, Rehearsal dinners, Afterparty, Honeymoon: While this blog focuses on wedding planning, it’s important to think about these aspects of the pre- and post-wedding. Some families and friends assume that all five will take place. Others don’t find them necessary! You should do what YOU want!
  5. Staying together the night before: Consider whether you want to stay together the night before the wedding or not. Tradition says you should stay separately, but some couples find it more soothing to be with the love of their lives on one of the most stressful nights.
  6. Thank you notes
    1. when to send thanks especially when gifts come before the wedding date
    2. tips on writing thank you notes!
  7. Being charitable: How to get married AND be charitable at the same time!
  8. Wedding photos: Many times, the best part of the post-wedding is seeing the candid shots that your friends and family took. But a lot of times they’re all over the place on different websites. Make sure all your guests’ upload their photos into ONE online photo album! Give out the website info at the wedding, sign up in advance so The Wedding Lens can send reminder emails, and write the info into your thank you notes! Either way, make sure your photos are easily accessible, viewable, and downloadable!

Remember to check out our Green Wedding Tips and our Cheap Wedding Tips to help save your wallet & save the environment!

Still have questions? Email me! natasha@theweddinglens.com

~ Natasha

How to Create a Wedding Budget

Photo from The Wedding Lens

Photo from The Wedding Lens

A friend recently told me that she wasn’t sure how to start planning her budget. She didn’t really want to start by saying she had X thousand dollars to spend & then figure out how to spend it; she wanted to work her way up and figure out what she would need. So, how do you start planning a wedding budget?

  1. Start by doing some research about the cost of weddings in your area (or the area where you want to get married). This will give you an idea of what you can expect to spend — though, of course, careful planning can save you money!
  2. Think about which expenses are fixed and which are dependent on the number of guests. For example, food is dependent on the number of guests; attire costs are not. This will help you decide how much you will need to limit your guest list.
  3. Consider the costs. The items below give you a general idea of the expenses you’ll face. The (f) next to the item means it’s a fixed cost, independent of the number of guests.
  •  
    • Attire (f)
    • Rings (f)
    • Paper: STDs, Invitations, Program, Menu, Thank you cards, Guest book
    • Ceremony venue & officiant (f)
    • Reception venue & catering: Food, Drinks, Alcohol
    • Wedding cake
    • Photographer/videographer (f)
    • Decorations: Flowers, Centerpieces
    • Entertainment (f)
    • Transportation
    • Gifts: Wedding party, Favors (optional)
    • Tips & service charges

 4.   Think about the percentages that things cost. For example, the reception can cost between 35 – 50% of your total expenses because it includes food and drinks! Here’s a quick break down of costs…. Keep in mind, there are things that should also fall within these categories, such as hair & makeup, dress alterations, jewelry, dry cleaning. Oh, and the marriage license! 🙂

  •  
    • Attire (f) – 5%
    • Rings (f) – 15%
    • Paper: STDs, Invitations, Program, Menu, Thank you cards, Guest book (and stamps!) – 5%
    • Ceremony venue & officiant (f) – 1%
    • Reception venue & catering: Food, Drinks, Alcohol – 35%
    • Wedding cake – 3%
    • Photographer/videographer (f) – 10%
    • Decorations: Flowers, Centerpieces – 10%
    • Entertainment: DJ, band (f) – 4%
    • Transportation – 3%
    • Gifts: Wedding party, Favors (optional) – 2%
    • Other expenses: rehearsal dinner, after party (optional) – 2%
    • Tips & service charges – 5% (10-15% tips based on the charge)

5.   Decide which parts of the planning are the most important to you. You might decide that you would rather spend more on the food and drinks and less on the decorations; or you’d rather donate to a cause than give out favors. If you’re way over budget, think about what you can do without — and consider some the wedding tips that help you save money!

This should at least get you started on what you need to do to start planning your budget. Do you have any other tips or ideas? Let us know!

~ Natasha

What Wedding Trend Did You Give Up?

In light of the struggling economy, many couples are getting rid of some of the traditions and trends in wedding planning. There are some things that people give up more readily than others — for example, I’m guessing the bride would rather give up favors than a wedding dress! So, with that in mind, what have you (or will you) give up in your wedding planning process? Why?

Regardless of what you give up (especially if it’s a formal photographer!), make sure you get all the photos from your guests, so that you can see the pictures from your big day! Save money by using an online photo album.

Which Wedding Planning Magazine Do You Use?

As we know, there are about a million wedding magazines out there, along with a billion blogs and websites. It’s all rather overwhelming. I know a lot of people prefer to have a magazine in hand than to use the internet (though I recommend using The Wedding Lens blog, of course!). In this economy, people can’t afford to stock up on TONS of bridal and wedding magazines, so I want to help out our readers.

Which magazines are the best to use? Which are most helpful? Which gave you the most ideas? The best ideas? Which would you recommend?

Answer the quiz and then leave a comment below so that we can find out why you picked what you did.  Thanks for your help!!

Summer of Wedding Blog Posts

In honor of the 4th of July weekend (and just passing our first anniversary as a blog!), here’s the top Blogs Posts on TheWeddingsLens Blog — as rated by YOU! Well, okay, I’ll create a list of our favorites too. Since you asked.

  1. How to Choose the Right Wedding Gown  (which is actually right up there with Colorful Wedding Dresses!)
  2. 75 Cheap Wedding Tips
  3. How to Create a Seating Chart
  4. How to Write Wedding Vows
  5. Which Flowers are in Season for a Wedding
  6. How to Ask for Gift Cards or Money
  7. Photobooth at the Wedding Reception
  8. Creative Guestbook Ideas
  9. Invitations and Bringing a Date to the Wedding
  10. How to Pick Vendors for Your Wedding

The most read engagement story? Nicole & Kate’s Engagement Story (who just had a beautiful wedding and are using The Wedding Lens to share their photos with their guests!)

Our favorite blog post – aside from those above? Well, it’s tied, I think. Three ways. Or Four. I’d do five, but we’ll be here all day as I list through all the rest of ’em trying to decide. 🙂

  1. How to Plan Your Own Wedding (without a wedding planner)
  2. 50 Green Wedding Tips
  3. How to Meet Your Boyfriend at a Wedding (my personal fav!)
  4. Top 10 Reasons to Use The Wedding Lens (duh!)

Three things I notice — the “how to” blog posts seem to do a lot better than the others (generally) and we need you to submit more engagement stories! Email ’em to natasha@theweddinglens.com.

What’s your favorite The Wedding Lens Blog Post ?

~ Natasha