Unique Wedding Rings We Are Loving

Wedding rings/bands have come a long way since a single solitaire! Today, there are so many unique rings to reflect your personality and personal style. Here are a few we are currently swooning over... 

1. Catbird 

We love Catbird rings for their feminine and dainty details. They have a mix-and-match approach which makes for super easy pairings with lots of style. We adore this classic pairing for it's rose gold detail and aysemtrical design.

Engagement Ring 

Wedding Band

 Photography by:  Catbird

Photography by: Catbird

2. Everett

We found Everett on Instagram (they have a feed that is totally worth checking out) and fell in love. They carry a wide variety of engagement ring and band combinations that are to die for. A few of our faves: 

Engagement Ring 

Wedding Band 

Wedding Band

 Photography by:  Everett

Photography by: Everett

3. Ken and Dana

Ken and Dana are well known in the engagement ring community for their variety of styles and cuts. They cover everything from classic, to nature inspired, to sleek modern rings. We adore these pieces found among their vintage collection. Talk about unique! 

Engagement Ring

Wedding Band

 Photography by:  Ken and Dana

Photography by: Ken and Dana

4. Ashley Zhang Jewelry

We have long been eying the beautiful design of Ashley Zhang. This New York company creates gorgeous handmade fine jewelry and vintage and bespoke rings. We love this simple yet stunning diamond and pearl engagement ring with a diamond wedding band to add a bit of sparkle. 

Engagement Ring

Wedding Band

 Photography by:  Ashley Zhang Jewelry

Photography by: Ashley Zhang Jewelry

5. Kasia Jewelry 

We really love the hand-crafted vibe and unique style of Kasia Jewelry. I mean who doesn't think a black diamond is a total stunner? We adore her dramatic yet elegant designs. 

Engagement Ring

Wedding Band

Wedding Band

 Photography by:  Kasia Jewelry  

Photography by: Kasia Jewelry 

6. Consider the Wildflowers 

We are crazy about this combination because of it's simplicity and delicacy. We love Wildflowers collection of "one-of-a-kind" rings where you can find gorgeous, custom made pieces like this one: 

Engagement Ring

Wedding Band

Why We Love Garden Weddings

We love garden weddings, as they never go out of style and are both beautiful and unique. I mean who wouldn't want to be surrounded by a lush landscape full of fragrant flowers? Here are some reasons why we can't get enough of these organic and romantic weddings... 

  • You’re surrounded by beautiful and fragrant flowers, so you don’t have to bring much décor in, saving on time and money.   

 Photo by:  Lucy Cuneo

Photo by: Lucy Cuneo

  • A garden wedding often takes place during the day, which will also keep costs down (no lighting needed, menu costs are lower, etc).

 Photo by:  Simply Sarah

Photo by: Simply Sarah

  • It's more eco friendly- instead of having to throw out your florals following your wedding day, the flowers are already supplied and will continue to thrive post-celebration.
  • You can keep it hyper-local! Your menu can be dictated by the herbs surrounding you, again cost effective and eco friendly. 

  • Some venues allow you to cut bouquets straight from the garden. 

 Photo by:  Simply Sarah

Photo by: Simply Sarah

Where To Start Fresh Before Your Wedding

 Photo by  Heather Waraksa
  • Make a new email address for the wedding

    This keeps you organized and will save you from hours of inbox sifting. 

  • Come up with a unique hashtag to use throughout the weekend

    This has become an increasingly popular wedding trend and, believe it or not, is a great way to find some "hidden gem" photos taken by guests that you may have otherwise missed. 

 Photo by  Heather Waraksa
  • Setup a wedding website  

    Wedding websites are a great way to provide your guests with any information they might need from hotel and transportation details to restaurant recommendations. Believe us, it makes your life much easier having everything they need to know in one place. 

    *Click here to see some of our favorite Riley & Gray website layouts!
  • Get a rewards credit card to reap the benefits of all of your wedding expenses

    We're talking honeymoon miles! We recommend signing up for a rewards program with a larger airline like Delta or United to ensure your honeymoon destination is on their map. 

  • Keep your passport as is, though make sure it is not expired

    Not quite a fresh start, but it's important to know that you’ll want to keep your passport in your old name until you have time to change your name formally. 

  • Create a list of priorities with your fiancé 

    This will get you both on the same page, help you prioritize what’s most important to you, and help you decide where to splurge.  

 Photo by  Heather Waraksa
  • Buy a wedding planning book

         We love Mindy Weiss’, The Wedding Book.

  • Get the inside scoop

    Talk to other married couples to see what they loved most about their wedding and what they regret not doing.
 Photography by  Kati Rosado

Photography by Kati Rosado

Why You Won’t Regret Hiring a Videographer

 Photo by:  Jeremy Harwell

Photo by: Jeremy Harwell

1. You will remember those tear jerking toasts for years to come

2. The only way to truly capture the overall emotion of that day is through video

3. You will notice moments in the video that you didn’t even know happened on the actual wedding day

4. You can someday share the magic of your special day with your kids

Video by: Reeling Films

5. You can sit back and be a fly on the wall at your own wedding

Thinking Outside Flowers: Creative Centerpiece Ideas That are Far From Traditional

 Photo by:  Iris Photography

1. Fruit is a great alternative (and more cost effective route) to wedding florals. Lemons, berries, plums, pears, and pomegranate can add pops of color, texture, and uniqueness to any tablescape. 

2. Beachy elements like coral or shells make for a natural centerpiece that will be sure to wow your guests! 

 Photo by:  Leigh Miller

Photo by: Leigh Miller

3. Bringing in a colorful variety of candles is a great way to fill the table without sacrificing on style. 

4. Herbs! Not only will your tables smell delicious but herbs like rosemary, sage, and thyme add an unexpected yet natural element to your overall design. 

5. Branches are simple and organic without the fussiness of a large floral display. 

6. Stones or rocks are a great way to give your tablescape a more organic feel that compliments an outdoor rustic setting. 

 Photo by:  Jose Villa

Photo by: Jose Villa

7. Lanterns will bring some light and depth to your dinner tables while also adding a rustic vibe.

 Photo by:  Heather Waraksa

Photo by: Heather Waraksa

8. Family-style plates are great for bringing the table design and your guests together. 

 Photo by:  Jeremy Harwell

Photo by: Jeremy Harwell

9. A bouquet of delicate feathers can add a rustic and natural vibe to your tables while bringing in lots of color and texture. 

10.  Vintage books lining your tables are a warm and inviting design element that tells you and your fiance's story through words.

 Photo by:  Heather Waraksa

Photo by: Heather Waraksa

D&I Custom Wedding Calendar Checklist

Many of you have been asking what a wedding calendar checklist looks like from D&I and how it differs from the downloadable versions you can find online, so, today, we are going to share a sneak peak into the level of detail and customization you will receive when you          purchase a checklist directly from our site. Keep in mind this is just a small sampling of the comprehensive checklist you will receive broken down into the months and weeks leading up to your wedding. 

Once your purchase is made, a D&I consultant will be in touch within 24-48 business hours to setup a phone consultation so we can better understand the ins and outs of your wedding and how to best keep you on track throughout the planning process.

After speaking with one of our dedicated planners/designers, your consultant will create a customized checklist including wedding to-do's that specifically apply to your wedding. If you find you need more planning assistance than what the checklist provides, D&I can recommend vendors in your area, provide a detailed budget, or create custom floorplans to both keep you on track and offer expertise wherever you need it. 

* Two revisions are included with your purchase. Any additional revision is $50. 

Happy planning!


D&I Wedding Checklist- for blog and IG_Page_2.jpg

Minimalist Wedding - How to Keep Things Simple

 Photo by  Kati Rosado

Photo by Kati Rosado


The Dress

You will be the focus of your big day no matter what. A sleek white dress will keep your aesthetic cohesive and clean. 

 Photography by Lucy Cuneo 

Photography by Lucy Cuneo 



Simple can still be impactful. Choose an invite that allows for a lot of white space, so you can keep the text and design minimal. 

 Photography by  Jeremy Harwell

Photography by Jeremy Harwell



Florals are an easy place to get carried away with color and texture, however, you don’t want to take away from your dress or the overall design. 

 Photography by  Jeremy Harwell  

Photography by Jeremy Harwell 


Wedding Cake 

There are so many beautiful ways to dress up a basic white cake. With a little bit of texture or some subtle florals, your cake can be the perfect element to tie together every detail of your minimalist wedding.

 Photo by  Verdi

Photo by Verdi

Ceremony decor 

When you're up at the altar, guests eyes should be on you and your hubby.  

 Photography by  Kim Stockwell

Photography by Kim Stockwell


Table Decor

Right or left justify your centerpieces allowing for clean open space within your tablescape. An artfully designed table can be very elegant and timeless and also stretch your budget further (yay!)

 Photography by  Jeremy Harwell  

Photography by Jeremy Harwell 

Table Numbers 

A crisp, clear table number is easy to read and allows for the centerpieces to speak for themselves.

 Photography by  Verdi

Photography by Verdi


Wedding Photos

Choose a backdrop that is clean and minimal, so you and your love can be the showstoppers.

 Photography by  Leigh Miller

Photography by Leigh Miller

How to Maximize your Budget

1. Choose a venue that speaks for itself, so you don’t have to bring in much decor to work against ugly carpeting and draping. 

2. Avoid a tented wedding. Tents are not inexpensive and you will end up incurring many costs (bathroom trailer, generator, flooring, etc.) that you wouldn’t at a venue.

3. When it comes to stationery, the sky is the limit as far as budget goes. Try to focus on a unique design versus paper quality, as guests will remember the initial design and not whether or not the paper stock was thick. 

4. Don’t break the bank on your wedding dress that you will only wear once. Once Wed is a great resource for gently used designer gowns. You can also buy a super chic white gown that isn’t a wedding dress per se at places like Saks, Net a Porter, or Shopbop

 Photo by:  Jose Villa

Photo by: Jose Villa

5. Cut out the non-essentials. Does anyone really need favors and welcome goodies anyway?

6. Think beyond the florals. Florals can be costly due to seasonality. Try to incorporate other design elements like rocks, candles, coral, sea glass, etc. to your tablescape. 

 Photo by:  Jose Villa

Photo by: Jose Villa

7. Embrace the minimal yet chic trend. Don’t overdue it with decor. Simple can be super chic if done well.  

 Photo by:  Verdi

Photo by: Verdi

8. Go with a DJ over a band. Not hiring a full band is a huge cost savings and the benefit of hiring a DJ is that you get to dance to the real singers versus cover songs.

9. Choose a venue that does not require transport. Pick an event space that is located close to the guests hotels, so you are not obligated to provide transport to and from the ceremony and reception.

10. Consider hiring a newbie photographer that has a great collection of styled work but just needs the right clients to build his/her portfolio. 

How to make the most of your outdoor wedding (and what to be prepared for)

 Photo by  Kati Rosado

Photo by Kati Rosado

1. Spray for bugs! You don’t want any uninvited pesky guests to crash your wedding. 

2. Always have a backup rain plan. If you don’t like the indoor spaces available, plan on renting a tent in the case of inclement weather. A deposit is required to hold the tent though the balance is only due if the tent is utilized. 

 Photo by  Jane Shauck

Photo by Jane Shauck

3. Work with the landscape, not against it. If your backdrop is rustic and on the water, maybe a clear tent with white carpeting is not the best fit. 

 Photo by  Leigh Miller

Photo by Leigh Miller

4. Make sure the ground is level. Nobody wants to sit in a chair that is leaning sideways during dinner. 

 Photo by  Kati Rosado

Photo by Kati Rosado

5. Are restrooms easily accessible? If not, plan on renting a bathroom trailer that is conveniently located right next to your reception tables. 

6. You never know what the weather has in store for us. Make sure your linens are securely held down and candles contained, as gusty winds can always make an appearance when you least expect it. 

 Photo by  Leigh Miller

Photo by Leigh Miller

7. Make sure your guests are comfortable. Provide plenty of bug spray, suntan lotion, and shade for your friends and family (or blankets if its cool out). 

8. The band, lighting, caterers etc. all require ample power. Make sure the venue has enough power to supply all of your vendors or plan on bringing in a generator for extra cushion. 

9. Getting married on grass? Not a bad idea to provide heel protectors for all the ladies. Their stilettos will thank you!

 Photo by  Jane Shauck

Photo by Jane Shauck

10. Planning a wedding in a large outdoor space? Make it easy for your guests to get to and from each event. You don’t want them to feel like animals being herded through a farm. 

 Photo by  Katie Rosado

Photo by Katie Rosado

What to Ask While Interviewing Bands

There are so many fantastic bands out there and the search for the perfect fit can be a bit overwhelming. It's important to know what questions you should ask during the interviewing process to ensure you find the best fit. Below are our top ten questions you should put on your radar: 

 Photo credit:  Christian Oth  &  Heather Waraksa

1. Do you play continual dance music, and if so, for how long? 

2. What are your on-site requirements (i.e. hot meals, greenroom, specific stage size, etc)? 

 Photography by  Jose Villa

Photography by Jose Villa

3. Is the band I am seeing online, the band I will be getting on my wedding day?

4. Can you learn songs not in your repertoire? 

5. What are your overtime fees? 

 Photography by  Ira Lippke Studios

Photography by Ira Lippke Studios

6. What are your travel costs (most bands are populated in major cities)? 

7. Can we add pieces to the band?  

8. What genres are you best at covering? 


9. Can you play during ceremony and cocktails well? If so, how will we ensure a seamless transition from event to event? 

10. Can we see you play live before our wedding day?

Questions to Ask When Considering a Resort for Your Wedding Venue

Having a resort wedding can be romantic and tons of fun for your out-of-town guests, however, it's important to understand all the moving parts before diving in. Our wedding pros put together a list of questions to ask the resort to prepare you for the perfect destination wedding! 

Questions to ask (1).jpg

1. Do they provide transportation and if so, is it included in your contract?

Transportation details can be tricky. Make sure you have a clear understanding of what the resort means if they tell you that transportation is included. Does this mean for the bride and groom? the wedding party? all guests?

 Photo by  Virgil Bunao

Photo by Virgil Bunao

2. Do they offer a discount to block hotel rooms at their property via a courtesy block or are you financially responsible for any rooms not reserved?

If you are reserving rooms, it’s extremely important to understand if you will need to front the bill or if you guests can pay directly. 

3. What time does the wedding need to end by?

The party has to wind down at some point! Check in with the resort on their policies. 

 Photo by  Heather Waraksa

4. Do you have access to all event spaces for the entire day?

Resorts often book multiple weddings in one weekend. To ensure that you have enough time to prep your space for the wedding, ask if you can be granted primary access for the entire day. 

5. Do they offer discounts when booking your rehearsal dinner or brunch on-site?

It's worth their while to keep you and your guests in the resort for as much of the weekend as possible (it also happens to be less planning on your part), so this is definitely worth asking if you are awarded a discount for booking other wedding related events through their property.

 Photo by  Jeremy Harwell

6. If handling catering in-house, how can they accommodate special dietary requests (i.e. Kosher, vegetarian, or nut allergies)?

The last thing you'll want to worry about when food is being placed on the dinner table is what your dairy-free cousin is going to eat. Make sure that all guests dietary needs can be met before moving forward with in-house catering. 

 Photo by  Jose Villa

Photo by Jose Villa

7. Are there activities available to your guests on-site (canoeing, biking, etc) and if so, how do they go about booking them?

Most often, there is a single point person or a department of people in charge of resort activities. Find out who to talk to and what the booking process might entail. 

 Photo by  Kim Stockwell

Photo by Kim Stockwell

8. When on your wedding day does the venue close to the public?

Nobody likes a wedding crasher, even if it's accidental. Make sure that the resort will plan to close specific areas off from the public before any of your events begin. 

 Photo by  Kim Stockwell

Photo by Kim Stockwell

9. Do they regularly spray for bugs?

If this isn't something that they do, ask if it's possible to bring in a third party to address any bug concerns. 

10. What rain plan options are available to you?

Mother nature likes to surprise us sometimes. Make sure the resort has an alternate location  for your events in case of rain and... more importantly, make sure you like Plan B just as much.

Why Tented Weddings Ain't Cheap!

We love a tented wedding because tents are blank canvases ready for your customization! That said, a "casual backyard tented wedding" can quickly add up and it's important to know your costs going into the planning process. 

 Credits:   Photography by Verdi  (left and top right)  Iris Photography  (bottom right)


Photography by Verdi (left and top right)
Iris Photography (bottom right)

Why are they so expensive? 

1. You have to have a Plan B in the case of inclement weather and this can often mean more tents, marquees, flooring etc. 

2. Full flooring ain't cheap! Depending on the material (i.e. turf, carpet, hardwood) full flooring can cost up to $20k to cover the entire tent! 

3. Depending on your guest count, plumbing and availability can be an issue with indoor restrooms, in which case, you may need to provide bathroom trailers located near the tent, which, again, will drive your overall budget up!

4. Hosting a wedding in the middle of summer or winter? You may need AC and heat and these additions can cost up to $16k. 

5. Keep in mind permitting, equipment, and staff are additional costs on top of the flooring and tent costs mentioned above. 

How to Personalize Your Wedding

Let's face it... your friends have been invited to so many fabulous weddings across the globe at this point. How do you ensure your wedding stands out and represents you as a couple? Here are a few of our tried-and-true suggestions for personalizing your wedding. 

1. Incorporate family recipes wherever possible. Whether it's a cake that has been shared within your family for generations or a spin on the classic Manhattan cocktail, share some of your family's best kept secrets with your guests as part of your menu. 

 Photography by  Heather Waraksa  

Photography by Heather Waraksa 

2. Switch things up. Ditch the traditional sit down dinner and bring in food trucks and/or catering vendors that specialize in cuisine that you share as a couple. Because how much fun would it be to offer your guests an international sampling of you and your partner's favorite dishes?

3. Offer unique music throughout the night for your guests to experience. From a piano bar vibe to a latin trio to a silent disco (if you haven't tried this, you must!), incorporate unique music offerings throughout your wedding to surprise your guests and ensure they will forever remember your special day.

 Photography by  Jose Villa

Photography by Jose Villa

4. Don't take anything too seriously. Why not bring in a magician during the cocktail hour or a caricature artists during the reception? Wedding guests love anything novelty and off the beaten path. Even if it initially seems cheesy, trust us, your guests will love it! 

 Photography by  Heather Warkasa

Photography by Heather Warkasa

5. Set the tone for your wedding with a creative save the date that incorporates different things that you share as a couple. If you make it clear from the beginning that fun is the priority, your guests will be sure to have a blast all night long. 

6. Give your bridal party unconventional gifts that make an appearance in the wedding itself. How cool are these white Jordans the bridesmaids all wore once the dancing started?

 Photography by  Heather Waraksa

Photography by Heather Waraksa

7. Arrive in style on a boat, which is sure to wow your guests and feel super glam! 

 Photography by  Jose Villa

Photography by Jose Villa

8. Forget the florals. Incorporate something unique into your tablescapes that will be sure to stand apart. Think rocks, coral, and organic elements you can find in nature! 

 Photography by  Jose Villa

Photography by Jose Villa

What Every Couple Should Know When Searching for a Wedding Photographer

Our friend and colleague (and uber talented), photographer Kati Rosado, recently wrote an informative blog post on the things every couple should know when searching for their wedding photographer. Given that she has a unique perspective, we thought we would share her insight with you here today... 

All photos seen here are by Kati Rosado

1. Decide what style of photography you like. You may be perusing Instagram and see that there are SO many different types of wedding photography. I shy away from putting labels on different styles, but you need to review various types and decide which one makes you feel the happiest. I, for example, am a fine art wedding photographer. To dive into this topic would be a whole blog post (or multi-volume collection of books), but essentially we usually photograph with primarily film and some of us, like myself, also shoot digital. If this floats your boat- awesome! If not, that is totally okay and I am not offended one bit. If you want a more “dark and moody” style photographer, great! Do what makes you happy. But the first step in choosing a photographer is deciding which style you like best.

2. Be future minded when it comes to your wedding photos. What is trendy now may get old in just a few years. For me personally, it is a goal of mine to make my images “timeless.” Yes of course they have a modern flair, but I try not do any thing that will date the images and make my clients regret hiring me in 10 years. I want you to happy with your wedding photos, now, tomorrow, and forever.



3. Ask to see a full gallery (or two). If the only images you see on someone’s Instagram are styled shoots in perfect lighting, ask to see a few full galleries so you can see what their reception photos are like as well. Being a wedding photographer means having to be extremely flexible and versatile and it is important that you trust that your photographer can handle any lighting situation. These qualities usually come about through experience so don’t be afraid to ask how long the photographer has been shooting weddings as well.

4. Please let us know if you have chosen another photographer. If you inquire with us, we see you not as dollar signs, but as real people, and we are real people as well. If you have shared a little about yourself, we are already envisioning who you are and what your wedding will be like. If you “ghost us” (aka just never emailing us back) then it disappoints us far more than if you send us a polite email letting us know you chose another photographer. I promise, we are not that disappointed (I mean yes a little but then we move on!) We get these emails all the time. Please do the courteous thing and let us know if you hired someone else, or if you just are not interested, so we can move on as well with no hard feelings, and we won’t feel bad giving away your date to someone else.


5. Ask photographers you inquire with how they backup their photos. This may sounds silly but I have heard of countless horror stories of photographers losing wedding photos. To err is human and everyone makes mistakes, and yes there are occasionally times when freak occurrences do happen, but just asking the photographer what their backup method is will give you a better understanding and peace of mind. Same goes for film photographers, ask them what they do to ensure the safety of the film. When my brides ask me, I inform them that my film is stored in cool, dry locations and mailed via priority shipping straight to the lab in a well secured box; my digitals are shot on dual cards for automatic backup and when I get home I back them up 3 (yes, THREE) times. You can ever be too careful when you are talking about someone’s wedding photos!


6. Please make photography a priority! I know I am obviously biased, but truly… of all your wedding day details, photography is the only thing that increases in value over time. Flowers die, the dress gets dirty and hung up in a closet, the food is eaten within an hour, but your photos are FOREVER. They are truly a part of your legacy. Southern Weddings encourages couples to make photography 10-20% of their budget. The average wedding in America is somewhere around $35,000. So 10-20% of that is $3,500-7,000, which is generally the average cost of a wedding photographer.

7. Understand that our prices are usually non-negotiable. We are professional photographers and this is not only our passion but our livelihood. Our prices need to not only account for business expenses but our living expenses as well. Our package prices are created accounting for every expense we have using a specific algorithm that we have developed through the years. If you find someone who is quick to offer a discount, I would be very skeptical. We are happy to discuss your needs and wants and offer suggestions on ways we can get closer to your budget, but we won’t just give $1,000 off with no reason. Most of us would be happy to chat about how we can remove items from packages or shift some things around to get closer to your budget, though! It is all about how you ask.


8. Pretty please fill out the contact form. I understand you are probably emailing a lot of vendors, but please take just a few minutes to fill out the form so I can get to know a little about you, have your contact info, etc. This all gets logged into your profile which will be so helpful once you do book!

9. When we set up a time to discuss packages, please understand we are “interviewing” you just as much as you are interviewing us. It is not like when you buy a car and you want to appear unimpressed and see what the best deal is the seller can give you. We are usually on the look out for what we call “red flags.” An example of a red flag would be asking us to lower our prices without a cause, wanting to change large portions of the contract, or if you just don’t seem very excited about working with us. We always want to work with someone who is excited to work with us!


10. You get what you pay for. I hate to be the one to say it but it could not be more true in this situation. I am not saying everyone needs take out a loan to pay for wedding photography. But what I am saying is to educate yourself, make an informed decision, and then no matter what your decision is, have appropriately correlating expectations. Don’t expect the world if you only want to pay a little. If wedding photography is a priority, please make it a priority in the budget. Because the old saying is so true, and in a world when anyone can pick up a camera and be a photographer, it has never been more true!




Why you should take a break from wedding planning during the holidays

Wedding planning can be relentless and sometimes you just need a break from all of the checklists and logistics talk. The holidays are a time of rest and relaxation and it's important to recharge and let your mind take a break from all of the planning. Why is this so important? 


1. Most of your wedding vendors will be on break themselves. The wedding industry tends to shut down between Christmas and New Years, so there is no point in burning the midnight oil if your wedding planning team will not be responsive. 

2. Take advantage of time spent with family where the wedding isn't the topic of conversation. As much as you enjoy dreaming up the florals, menu, and photos together, it's important to spend quality time together celebrating the season. 

3. Take advantage of the holiday sales! Are you still in need of bridesmaid gifts, a guest book, or bridal shoes? If so, the holidays are a great time to capitalize on sales and check certain purchases off your to-do list. 

4. Start dreaming up your honeymoon! Use this time to fantasize about how you will unwind after your wedding where your only to-do list includes beach time, long siestas, and yummy cocktails. 

 Photography by  Liz Brown

Photography by Liz Brown

 Photography by  Liz Brown

Photography by Liz Brown

Engagement Photos- to do or not to do?

Many of our clients opt out of engagement photos because they fear they are too cheesy but before you make your decision, consider the following benefits to getting behind the camera with your main squeeze prior to the wedding day...

1. Engagement Photos allow you an opportunity to get comfortable with your photographer and behind the camera. Most people don't like being photographed and, therefore, don't appear natural. A quick engagement session will let you practice loosening up and getting used to having your photographer directing you. 

2. Learn what angles you are most comfortable with. It sounds vain but we all know we have a favorite side! 

3. Get to know your photographer. After an hour or so with your photographer, you will know who they are and how they can help you get the best possible photos on your wedding day. 

4. Learn what light you like best. Did you decide to shoot in the middle of the day and wish the lighting was softer? A trial run through will ensure your wedding photos are taken at the most ideal time of day for your style. 

5. Because you don't want your only professional photos as a couple to be from your wedding day. 


Wedding Websites

We are suckers for anything beautifully designed and think your wedding "theme" should be cohesive throughout your entire event, starting with your wedding website. We always recommend Riley & Grey to our clients, as their templates are user-friendly, stylish and versatile. Here are some of our favorites that could work with any wedding aesthetic: 

Entertaining 101

 Photography by  Heather Waraksa

Photography by Heather Waraksa

The holidays are approaching and for some of you, this means hosting your nearest and dearest at your home. Below are our fool-proof tips to keeping the stress at bay while still wowing your guests. 

1. The more preparation beforehand=less stress for you once your guests arrive. Choose a menu that you can cook the night before or stick in the oven for several hours before your gathering begins. One pot and crock pot meals are ideal for large family gatherings, so you can place the finishing touches together in the kitchen but not be chained to the stove during your whole party. 

2. Don't overthink the decor. Sometimes simple is best. Pick up some simple greenery from your local Trader Joes, throw in some taper candles, votives, and unique flatware and china. You don't need to put together professional floral arrangements to make a big impact.

 Photography by Heather Waraksa 

Photography by Heather Waraksa 

3. Create an warm and cozy ambiance by curating a playlist (or just play Pandora) that sets the tone for the evening. While you don't want the music to overpower anything, your guests will appreciate casual tunes playing throughout the day.

4. Lay out your serving pieces several days prior to ensure every dish is accounted for. The last thing you want to do is scramble for a bowl and serving spoon for the mashed potatoes that are ready to be served. 

 Photography by  Heather Waraksa

Photography by Heather Waraksa

5. Pre mix cocktails. Make it easier for yourself and instead of playing bartender, serve your guests festive drinks that were pre-made in a pitcher, so they can serve themselves and keep the festivities going.

Engaged? Now what?

 photography by  Simply Sarah Photography  

photography by Simply Sarah Photography 

Congratulations on your engagement! This time is likely very exciting but can also be a bit overwhelming and you may be wondering where do I go from here?

Cue the experts at Desired & Inspired! Below are the recommended first steps compiled by our expert wedding and event planners:

1. Put together a guest list. Determining how many guests will attend your wedding is pertinent, as this will dictate both the venue selection and budget. Instead of allowing each family member an unlimited amount of invites, set parameters so everyone is on the same page. 

2. Your guest list is set, now let's talk budget. This is the not-so-fun but important part of the planning process. What is the maximum you are comfortable spending? Once you have determined this, you can hire the D&I experts to put together a custom budget that breaks down allocations for each vendor. This will then help you to understand which venues you can look at and what you should be spending where. 

3. Before contacting vendors, try to envision what you are looking to achieve on your wedding day and what vibe you want. Do you want a formal sit down dinner with dance sets in between, a giant cocktail party overlooking the water, or an unconventional backdrop that your guests will be impressed by? Make a list of your priorities and only contact venues that fit within your max guest list, budget, and overall aesthetic. Choosing a venue that works with vs. against your design style is the smartest decision you can make during the planning process and will help  stretch your budget further. 

4. Now set up site visits. During these walk throughs, make sure you understand all venue costs that could apply to you, so you can best assess the overall venue costs. 

5. Once the venue has been selected, start to think through the other vendors you want to work with and start with the ones that book up quickly (i.e. photographers, bands, catering). 

6. Once they key vendors have been booked, move onto establishing your design. Don't just scour Pinterest for wedding related inspiration but be sure to look to non-wedding magazines, websites, etc. for more unique and unexpected ideas. 

7. After your design is established, book a florist that gets you. Yes, every florist can work with any design but you will find that certain vendors gel better with your ideas than others. Go with the designer you feel most closely fits your aesthetic, budget, and personal approach to planning. 

8. Save the dates should go out 6-8 months prior to your wedding (and sometimes further in advance if your wedding is destination). Start to think about your design and wording and what stationer can best bring your vision to life. 

9. From here, continue to move through the planning process and book vendors that understand your vision and can work with your budget. 

For more of a custom checklist for your entire planning period, see our 'wedding checklist' on the purchase page. Happy planning!