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!