Do I Need a Videographer? with Embark Films

It’s no secret that planning wedding is no simple or inexpensive task. One category that has frequently been overlooked but is rapidly gaining popularity: a videographer. Do you really need a videographer at your wedding? While at the end of the day it comes down to personal opinion, we believe the answer is a firm yes! Afterall, you only live your wedding day once, so we love having a video to capture even more moments to relive for years to come. We caught up with the extremely talented Dmitry Gordievsky, owner and main cinematographer at Embark Films to learn a little more about him and his company, but also to hear his thoughts on why wedding films are so special and what the filming process is like for couples!

PI: What made you want to start your own videography studio?

DG: I believe it’s something that just happened naturally. I didn’t have some crazy goal of doing weddings specifically. I created wedding films because it came naturally to my style and my personality. I’m super dramatic and love getting to know people much deeper. When I found that I can mix cinematics, love, and storytelling into wedding films, I was hooked.

PI: What’s your favorite part about capturing people’s big days?


DG: My favorite part about a couple’s big day is seeing the two personalities collide. You get two see these two amazing personalities just mix and bounce off one another all day. You get to see how freaking happy they both are when they see each other on this day that they’ve been cultivating since day one of their journey as a couple. You see the best of everyone all in one big day and you’ll never get to experience something like that anywhere else.

PI: How did you develop your style of shooting?


DG: What I found out is that I love to capture the real thing candidly. I hate forcing couples to do something that isn’t really them just for the videographer’s or photographer’s own benefit. Capturing the couple from afar in their natural self creates a film that represents the couple for who they really are and it also lets the couple breathe and feel at ease without having a camera in their face every second.

PI: How did you learn to videograph on a professional level?

DG: Consistency and actually loving what I do. Editing every single day for 10 years, sacrificing time with friends and family, no vacations, constantly investing into myself; all of this cultivated a very hard work ethic which in turn helped me take every wedding very seriously and really focus on my craft. It then grew into a professional running studio with a highly dedicated team so we can meet more amazing couples and create even more beautiful wedding films.

PI: Were there any videographers that inspired you to become one yourself?

DG: I’m proud to say that I became a videographer on my own terms because it’s something that I naturally got interested in. The moment I picked up a camera and found out that I can edit things with music, my life changed forever. I literally felt so alone because, at the time, no one ever talked about videography. It was just a random hobby. It was later on in my career that I started to research other wedding filmmakers and fell in love with their creative style. They taught me that there is absolutely no limit to creating amazing films.

PI: As a video production studio, what are the different roles/jobs that make up your team of professionals?

DG: I remember the days when it was very simple. Just answer that one God-given email, schedule a meeting, book the couple, film their wedding, edit and create their film, done. Now it's on another level. With more and more requests coming in every year, the workload became unbearable and my focus on the client was fading, which for me, was a HUGE problem. My problem was that I said “yes” to everyone and didn’t ever want to say “no.” After a lot of testing, trials, and learning what it takes to grow and manage a video production studio, we are now a full time running, and striving to become an honest company.

Image Source: Embark Films

Image Source: Embark Films

  • CEO (Me) - Lead cinematographer and editor. Handles client meetings. Keeps track of sales and marketing. Trains new videographers and editors.

  • Director of Operations - Makes sure the studio is flowing properly every day and finds new ways to do things better.

  • Assistant - Helps answers emails and delegates which email goes where. Whether it’s a wedding or commercial film request.

  • Artist/Interior Designer - Creates new beautiful packaging ideas we can offer clients and creates backdrops for photographers to use in our studio rental

  • In-house Photographer - Capturing all the behind the scene action during weddings or in the studio

  • Social Media - Posts content on a daily basis. Engages followers. Also keeps track of analytics and SEO

  • 5 Videographers

  • 3 Editors

The Wedding Videography Process:

PI: What do you think the biggest pro is to have a videographer at your wedding?

DG: You get to relive your wedding day! You will never want to forget the day your closest friends and family were by your side as your married the love of your life. There is always something funny, crazy, or emotional going on during a wedding that I believe should be captured and cherished forever. Plus, you get to be a celebrity for the day.

PI: Can you explain what the process entails for having a videographer at your wedding?


DG: Do your research! Look at multiple videographers to help you figure out what films and style you are naturally attracted to. Go with your gut as they say. Schedule a meeting with the videographer to get to know them personally, after all, the videographer you choose is going to be with you 100% of the time during the wedding. Ask core questions! Talk about their style and what makes them stand out from the rest. You want a videographer that you connect with and someone who actually wants to be a part your wedding day, not an awkward person with a camera. Talk about money! See if they’re willing to work around your budget. Humble videographers are the best videographers. They care more about you and your wedding than how much money they are getting. You don’t want to be treated like a number. After you booked your videographer, stay in touch! Make sure they are updated with everything. On the day of the wedding, trust them to do their job. You should never feel like you have to make sure the videographer isn’t doing their job. Feed them! Make sure they are well-fed… trust me.

PI: What are the most important things a couple should know before choosing a videographer for their wedding?

DG: Remember that you are hiring someone that sees the world and your wedding completely different compared to another videographer. Express why you love their style. Videographers and artists everywhere love hearing what someone loves about their work. I would love to tell you that videographers treat every couple the same but that's far from the truth. If you throw money in their face, they will treat you like a job. But if you formulate a relationship with them, they will film you and your wedding with such love and care. Let's not forget about price. Videographers of all kinds think very highly of themselves. Some will charge you $5,000 for work that is $1,000 and others will charge you $1,000 for work that is worth $5,000. Don’t judge a videographer’s skill based on price. Compare their work with other videographers in the area and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

PI: How does the collaboration between the videographer and the photographer work?

DG: Contrary to popular belief, videographers and photographers don’t really like each other. They never contact each other before the wedding and don’t plan things out together. It's like a cat versus dog kind of relationship. Why is this? Because you can’t really tell what the photographer and videographer are like over the phone, that's only done in the moment, and in person on the day of the wedding. I think everyone has just has bad experiences in 1 of 100 weddings and then base their opinion of videographers or photographers based on that one activity. We just usually try to work well together once we meet on the wedding day. But professional vendors know how to work well together without even saying a word and are prepared for anything. Plus, most vendors are really uptight and have a huge sense of pride where they believe their job is the most important. Either way, we just try our best not to get in each other's way.

PI: What are the best methods of saving and sharing your video with friend and family after the wedding?

DG: I believe you should always have an electronic copy online, whether it's on Google Drive, DropBox, or any other online storage site. This allows you to have access to your wedding film at any given time, anywhere in the world, straight from your phone or computer. You should then have a hard copy of your wedding film stored safely in an External Hard Drive sitting in your home. In case the internet dies, you will always be able to access your wedding film using a computer or laptop. We offer couples both electronic files and a box containing a flash drive and an external hard drive.

PI: What are the things the couple should think about before the big day that should be shared with the videographer?

DG: No detail is too big or too small. Have a list of every specific detail or moment that you want to be captured. Never assume the videographer will capture absolutely everything. Videographers do their best to capture everything but can sometimes miss something if they were unaware or unprepared. Something important to you might not have been as important to the videographer but the videographer would have never known that so it's best that they know what is important to you. Simply saying “capture my entire wedding” is pretty broad. Be specific and the videographer will be prepared. Not to mention that many weddings have many different cultural rituals and traditions, like honey sugar being sprinkled on the couple's heads during the ceremony and honey being poured on their pinkies…. Yea that's a real thing.

PI: What are some ways you might approach a camera-shy couple to help them have a more enjoyable experience while on film?

DG: It’s normal being camera shy. Heck, even I am camera shy and I work behind one! It all depends on the videographer’s personality. They should be able to make you feel comfortable and break the ice. If the videographer can’t do this, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride. I have a sense of humor and like to make couples laugh and even forcefully make things awkward so that I am the one saying what everyone is thinking. In the end, I remind the couple to always be themselves, to never change who they are for the camera, that I am there to make sure they look good, and that I would never make them look awkward on camera. Couples want to be assured that everything they are doing is fine.

PI: What are some of your favorite techniques or ways to shoot a wedding?

DG: I focus on blending in with the crowd and to be as minimal as possible when it comes to camera gear and equipment. Since I like to film things candidly, I point and shoot very quickly so the couple or person doesn’t even know they are being filmed. I constantly focus on making sure the couple doesn’t feel pressured having a camera being pointed on them. You’d be surprised what people do when they notice a camera on them. Some people even stop breathing.

PI: What does a videographer offer to a wedding/event that a photographer can not?

DG: Videographers add flavor. They bring life and excitement to your wedding. They can even make you cry from happiness. Videographers take control of your emotions and express them in your wedding film. Nothing against photographers, but they capture beautiful moments and remind someone “how good they looked.” But once a person sees that picture, they have to remember what they felt during that moment. With a videographer, you can literally see, feel, and experience that moment all over again.  We pull on your heart strings and give you goosebumps.

PI: Do the bride and groom go through the editing process with you after the wedding, or do they just see the final product?

DG: Our couples can go through the editing process with us after we send them the first draft. Couples always trust our creative process and honestly, isn’t that why you are hiring the videographer in the first place? But after we send the first draft, clients have the option of giving us their feedback and letting us know if there are any shots or moments they would like added, removed, or replaced. We do our best to get it 100% right the first time but love working with clients to make sure the film is exactly what they want and more.


If you’re engaged and looking for a videographer for your wedding, we can’t recommend Embark Films enough! Check out their site for all the information, including their great special running now through the end of January!

I Do! (Not Know Where to Begin) Month 3: Photographer & Videographer

header.jpg

Welcome back friends! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. It’s crazy to me that we’re already in a new year. 2018 was quite the whirlwind for me, and I’m so thankful to be able to be planning a wedding with the best guy around. Today we’re going to be talking about one of my favorite pieces of the puzzle: the photographer and videographer! I’m breaking my usual mystique with this one, because I am so obsessed with these vendors that I have to give them crazy shoutouts. If you are in need of a photographer or videographer -- these guys are seriously the best! Honestly, I knew before we were engaged exactly who would be hired for these jobs.

Image Source: Melanie Zacek/Photo by Ashley Largesse

Image Source: Melanie Zacek/Photo by Ashley Largesse

Picking your photographer (and videographer if you’re planning to have one) is one of the most important choices, if you ask me. This person is responsible for capturing the essence of the day and making your memories last for years to come in the most beautiful way. I knew that we needed to have someone that we were comfortable with and trusted. That being said, there was no way anyone other than the extremely gifted Melanie Zacek would be shooting our wedding! I’ve had the honor of working with Melanie on multiple of our photoshoots here at Parsimony and guys, seriously, she’s amazing. The details she captures, her whole attitude and demeanor, I knew that I needed her at my big day.

In terms of videographer, I had been told by multiple people going into this planning that one of their biggest regrets was not having a videographer. It was something that I wanted to get into the budget if at all possible, and I’m so happy we’re able to make it work. Dmitry Gordievsky and his team over at Embark Films are crazy talented and once again, there was no contest in my mind. Dmitry shot the most epic movie trailer for our Love Lost at Sea photoshoot last year and I immediately became obsessed. I’m seriously like a kid in a candy store knowing that we have both of these incredible artists on our team.

Image Source: Embark Films

Image Source: Embark Films

I think one of the biggest things that most people don’t realize going into planning is how expensive it’s going to be to have a quality photographer and videographer at your wedding. I can’t emphasize this statement enough: you need to know that you’re paying for the quality in this situation! This is NOT an area that you want to skimp in. It WILL show in your end results! That being said, just because they are more expensive, doesn’t mean that they’re the right option for you. Really study their work and make sure that their style is something that meshes with yours and is something you really appreciate! These photos and videos are something that you’re going to look back on for years to come. When your memories have faded and you don’t remember those details on your own, you’re going to want to have these momentos to flood you with those feelings and help you relive the big day. These pieces are investments and you really want to take them seriously. I’ve yet to hear of someone who regretted hiring a great photographer or videographer, but I have heard plenty of stories from people who decided to go with cheaper options and quickly came to regret it.

Image Source: The Southern California Bride

Image Source: The Southern California Bride

Along the same subject line, Jaren and I have decided to have an “unplugged” ceremony. Meaning we don’t want any of our guests to have their phones, iPads, cameras, etc. out during the ceremony. I have seen many a ruined photo or video from someone stepping out into the aisle to try and get a great shot. While I appreciate that people want their own photos to remember the day by, that’s why we’re hiring professionals! We’ll be sharing all the photos and videos with everyone after the fact, but don’t want Uncle Bob’s iPhone blocking my face while we’re saying our vows (don’t worry, there is no actual Uncle Bob). As soon as cocktail hour hits, you can snap away, but until then, phones are away. I know lots of people have started trying this out and haven’t necessarily been successful, so my advice to other couples is to be extremely diligent about it. Not only will we have a nice sign reminding people, but we will also have the officiant make a reminder announcement before we walk down the aisle. Oh, and our vendors have all been given permission to tell anyone that they need to put their devices away should any be seen. Some may think that makes me a bridezilla, but if I’m going to be investing my time into creating a beautiful day and having it professionally photographed and videographed, you can put your phone away for a half hour.

I Do! (Not Know Where to Begin) Month 2: Contracts

header.jpg

Okay guys, one thing I didn’t fully prepare myself for coming into this wedding planning thing? Contracts. There’s a contract for everything. Which makes sense, it protects both parties and makes sure that everyone is getting what they are promised and providing what’s promised. But when I first started, it was a lot. I didn’t really know what I should be looking out for. What red flags would look like, if I could negotiate… I knew nothing! So today I wanted to help anyone else going through, or preparing to go through this process and share the list of things that Melissa showed me to look for in a contract, using our venue contract as an example. Obviously, each contract will be different in some way, but there are a lot of general things to look for regardless of what it’s for.

The Specifics

First thing’s first. Make sure to double check the spelling of all names and that contact information is correct! This may sounds like a no-brainer, but I totally missed that Jaren’s name was spelled incorrectly when I initially read our venue contract and that my phone number was missing. It wasn’t until my second pass that I noticed. Details people! If you aren’t detail oriented, it would be a really good idea to have another set of eyes on your contracts, at least while you’re getting the lay of the land. I have Melissa read through all our contracts before we sign off on anything.

Also in this category is the location information. Make sure the address, date and time frame are all correct. If you’re using multiple spaces within one venue, make sure that is all listed our properly as well.

Deposits and Minimums

Image Source: Real Simple

Image Source: Real Simple

If there are any minimums with your venue, you should already be aware of them. However, make sure that they’re listed correctly on your contract. For instance, our venue has a per plate minimum for catering, so we double checked that the figure quoted aligned with what what reflected in the contract. There should also be a clear statement of what your initial deposit is. Make sure that this is something you can pay TODAY! You can’t sign a contract if you’re unable to fulfill the financial obligation, especially because a credit card declined or a bounced check usually results in an additional fee. Always fully understand what your deposit goes towards (it should be going towards your balance of the event). They’re usually non-refundable to definitely be committed before signing anything!

Most contracts will lay out your payment schedule for the remaining balance after your initial down payment. Really review this, understand it, and make sure that you can meet the outlined plan. If you have any questions, ask! There was an error on our original contract, charging us $1,000 more than we were quoted. That was fixed in the next revision but our payment schedule was not, so it looked like we were going to pay more than our wedding was supposed to cost. (See what I mean when I say it’s all in the details?)

We had to give our credit card information for them to keep on file. Know what they are and are not allowed to use this information for. On our authorization form we had options for what could be charged to the card, so we know that the remainder of our payments will automatically be charged on the agreed upon dates.

Food & Beverage

Our venue has catering included, so this part may differ if that’s not the case for other locations. Regardless, know what is and isn’t allowed. Health laws will most likely prohibit any outside food from coming onto the property. This includes alcohol. Some venues will make exceptions for things like wrapped candy if you’re planning on having a candy bar. Know what the penalties are if you want to change your guest count, date, or time of the event as this will also affect your food and beverage charges.

Allowance and Limitations

Once again, it’s important to know what is and is not allowed with your rental. Can you bring in outside decor? Can you hang lights from the ceiling or walls? Know your limits! Also know what you’re liable for in terms of damages, replacements, clean up fees, etc.

Another point to note is what is done in-house and what is done by third-party vendors. For example, our venue contract outlines that they do not have in-house audio-visual equipment, but can provide it from a third-party vendor with proper notice, charging us for the usage.

Image Source: Wedding Sparrow

Image Source: Wedding Sparrow

Any quiet hours should also be listed on the contract. If nothing is listed, I would inquire -- maybe they don’t have any, but it’s pretty unlikely. Know what these are and make sure it’s something that you’re comfortable with. If you’re night owls and quiet hours start at 9 pm, this might not be the best fit for you.

Planning Deadlines

There should be a clear deadline listed for when you need to have your guaranteed guest count reported. Add this to your planning timeline (along with your payment schedule) so that you don’t forget! It would be a shame to pay for 70 plates if you only have 60 RSVPs yes. Wasted food and wasted money. No one wants that!

“Force Majeure”

This will appear in probably every contract. Standard legal language removing liability should anything crazy or Earth-shattering occur. If this is something that freaks you out, you should definitely look into wedding insurance (more on that another day).

Final Notes

Keep a copy of everything! Every email, every draft and revision, and your signed copies. Know the dates that they were all exchanged and when deposits were made. Heaven forbid anything come to pass, you’ll need to have all of this information at the ready. Being the crazy organizational freak that I am, I have a two part system. I have a hard-copy of everything stored in our wedding binder (complete with color-coded tabs) and I also store a copy of everything in our shared “Wedding Planning” Google Drive folder. This is my favorite because I have it with me everywhere I go and can easily check on details even if I don’t have my binder with me. It’s honestly a control freak’s dream come true.

Not the most exciting installment this week, but I hope it can help some other couples making their way through the process! I promise that next week will be way better… we’re diving into one of the topics I’m most excited about: photographers and videographers!

Wedding Essentials: Insuring Your Engagement Ring

You’re engaged, yay! One of the first -- and frequently overlooked -- steps is to insure your engagement ring. Your fiance most likely spent quite a pretty penny on it, or maybe it’s a family heirloom. Regardless of its history, it’s extremely important that you get insurance on it as soon as possible. Why? You insure other items that are high in value: your home, your vehicle, your health… so it makes sense that this would go right along with those things, too. This way, you have a backup plan if something were to happen to your ring. Instead of losing thousands of dollars in the ocean on your honeymoon, you know you can file a claim with your insurance when you get home to recoup your losses to replace your ring. Going about acquiring your insurance for your ring can be confusing, there are lots of different options! So today, we’re going to break down all those details and help you make sense of what your options are.

Image Source: Olive Ave Jewelry

Image Source: Olive Ave Jewelry

Your Options:

There are two main avenues you can pursue for insuring your ring. The first is to add it onto your home or renters insurance as a “rider.” While home and renter insurance typically covers items within the home, it’s really only up to a certain dollar amount. That’s why it’s best to get a rider to cover your ring specifically to avoid any complications. The other option is to get an independent policy just on your ring, usually from a company that specializes in jewelry insurance. A big pro to this option is that they usually offer more comprehensive coverage than a rider would. So instead of just getting the cash, your policy may actually issue a replacement ring in the event something happens to it.

The Process:

The first step in any process is usually to have an appraisal done. Make sure that you’re having this done with a licensed gemologist. There’s usually a small fee associated with this process. It’s also good to note that you should get your ring re-appraised on a somewhat regular basis. We recommend every two to three years to make sure your insurance coverage is still the right amount. In addition to your appraisal, some companies will require your original receipt as well as a copy of your GIA certificate.

Image Source: Charla Storey

Image Source: Charla Storey

What can I expect to pay?

Typically, most policies will include a premium that is 1-2% of the ring’s value. So if you have an $8,000 ring, you can expect an $80-160 premium. That being said, rates will differ depending on the cost and quality of the piece, your location, and your level of coverage. Shop around and see what different quotes you can get with different options.

Questions to Ask:

This is the time to ask all the questions! You want to make sure you have a full understanding of your policy and exactly what is covered and what isn’t. Are there any hidden stipulations? Now is the time to dig in and really get all the answers! Some of the questions we suggest asking include:

  • Is the ring covered if you lose it accidentally, or only if it's stolen?

  • How will the company replace the ring? Are you insured for a replacement or only cash? Will they require you to purchase a replacement through a specified jeweler? What happens if a suitable replacement cannot be found?

  • What if it's a vintage ring or other unique piece? How will the quality and size of your diamond—and that of a replacement if needed—be documented?

  • Is the ring insured to full cost or a fraction of it?

  • How will you need to prove the ring vanished if you make a claim?

  • Are there any circumstances of loss or damage that aren't covered?

  • Can you choose who repairs your ring?

  • Will you continue to be insured when out of the country?

  • Are you covered for damage or just loss/theft?

  • Will the policy adjust according to inflation?

  • What maintenance is required?

  • What services go towards a deductible?

Image Source: The White Wren

Image Source: The White Wren

Remember, if there’s anything that you’re confused about, uncomfortable with, or just unsure on, now is the time to ask!

Things to Remember:

If you opt to insure your ring through a rider on your home or renters insurance, make sure you remember to move your rider with you to your next residence! This is something that can easily be overlooked and forgotten, and unfortunately you most likely won’t remember until you need it most. A lot of policies will require regular cleanings and checkups on your ring, even if your policy doesn’t, we highly recommend getting into this practice because it’s the best way to catch if something is coming loose before it’s too late!

I Do! (Not Know Where to Begin) Month 2: First Round Guest List

header.jpg

Welcome back friends! Can you believe it’s time to start going over the events from month TWO?! Holy moly, time is just flying by. The first thing we’re addressing this month is the process of starting to develop the guest list. Ugh. To be honest, I had already started coming up with a rough idea of this months before we even got engaged… that’s just who I am. This whole thing is definitely my least favorite part of wedding planning and reminds me why I stopped having parties growing up.

Image Source: @becccawaugh

Image Source: @becccawaugh

The guest list is pretty much synonymous with stress. Being that we’re trying to keep things small, you know going into it that you’re going to end up disappointing some people. Being a people pleaser, it’s really rough going into things knowing that. While I would love to invite all our friends and family from near and far, we’re just not looking to have a 200 person wedding (or have the budget for something like that). So, with that being said, Jaren came up with a really great guideline for us to follow: anyone being invited to our wedding has to be someone we both know on a first name basis and are familiar with. The more I sat with it, the more I loved the concept. Anyone that’s going to be invited to such a small an intimate gathering should be someone that we’re both comfortable and friendly with. It’s truly the people that we can’t imagine saying “I do” without.

Even within our families, there have already been some potentially ruffled feathers -- which I was totally expecting. Being that I come from such a large, close-knit family, my numbers kind of shoot up right off the bat. Just my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins total around 20 people. They’re all people that I can’t imagine getting married without. My cousins aren’t like normal cousins, we’re incredibly close and I wouldn’t trade them for the world. We grew up with my two closest cousins in age living less than 5 minutes away. They’re practically a second sister and brother to me. So that was my non-negotiable family list. With that, there wasn’t much room to add in any great-aunts or uncles. That wasn’t to the pleasing of my grandparents at first, but luckily they’re very understanding and know we’re working with small numbers. Jaren’s family is much smaller and therefore he has a lot more flexibility to pick and choose who he really wants there. His numbers round out to be just under 20, so we’re pretty close on that front.

Image Source: Mod Weddings

Image Source: Mod Weddings

When it comes to adding friends into the mix, there’s not much room to play with. I think with our first round, we’re around 15 guests each, including plus ones, putting us right around our max guest goal of 70. It was difficult to make the decisions here, but at the same time, I tried to follow a similar mindframe as with my bridesmaid selection. Who are the people that I’m closest with in my life and really keep in touch with? The list kind of fell together and just felt right.

It’s funny to look back at some of the articles I’ve written pre-engagement and how my advice stacks up to what I’m actually doing. I actually looked back at my guest selection guide to help with the process. One thing that I hadn’t thought of before that has since been brought to my attention is having a secondary list. It’s possible that a lot of guests on our initial list may not be able to make it to the big day, which means we have two options: have a smaller wedding or add more guests to the list. Honestly, the idea of having a secondary list gives me anxiety too, because I’m worried that people are going to be offended if they weren’t invited originally but then get invited later on. But I would hope that on some level they would be happy to be invited in general. If not, they always have the option to say no.

Image Source: Junebug Weddings

Image Source: Junebug Weddings

With the wedding being almost two years out still, and save the dates not going out for quite a few more months, there’s always a possibility that things will change. That’s why I think it’s so important to develop your list early, so that you have time to tweak and really think about your choices. Right now, I’ve hit a point of acceptance where I’m trying not to overthink or stress over the guest list. With us not taking action on it for a few more months, there’s no use in fretting. I tend to be an overthinker, so instead of driving myself crazy, I’m focusing on the more fun and exciting aspects of the planning process! But more on that next week.

Wedding Planning 101: Finding the Perfect Invitation Suite

Image Source: Minted Weddings

Image Source: Minted Weddings

Picking your invitation suite can be a bit overwhelming, there are so many options out there! All the different styles, packages, and price points can be difficult to navigate. That’s why we’re going to break it all down for you today and share some of our favorite resources for purchasing your suite! Keep in mind, you can go as crazy or simple as you want. Your save the date cards do not have to match your formal invitations. Your invitations can be simple or comprehensive -- including components like song requests, hotel information, RSVP cards, registry information, and more.

Mode of Purchase

In our day and age of advanced technology, your method of creating your paper goods is somewhat limitless. You can pick a pre-designed photocard, a pre-designed photo-less card, or you can have something designed custom-made just for you. You can order cards and have them printed and shipped to you, or you can order a template and print your cards yourself. If you’re looking for the most cost-effective method, we suggest doing your research to compare what costs end up being if you do select a template. You’ll still want high quality printing, so most likely not done at home. Check out the cost to make prints at places like Staples or CVS, and also remember you’ll have to purchase envelopes on top of it compared to if you order pre-designed cards from somewhere like Shutterfly, where envelopes will be included.

Image Source: Basic Invite

Image Source: Basic Invite

Places to Check Out

There is such a wide variety of options for places to look! If you’re looking for something more unique and personalized, check out Etsy. Lots of shops offer templates or even personalized suites. While they’re usually still pre-designed, not as many people think to go somewhere small like individual stops on Etsy. That being said, there are so many options of templates for pre-designed suites on sites like Shutterfly, Mint, Basic Invite, Vista Print, and Simply to Impress are just a few of our favorite options. There’s room for upgrades like foiling or even clear invitations. You can get matching sets or opt to mix and match. Price will often vary upon the amount ordered. That being said, you really can create some beautiful suites. Most of these sites have so many color options within each design. You can create regular paper invites, magnet save the date cards, postcards, etc.

Image Source: Simply to Impress

Image Source: Simply to Impress

We’re big believers in starting the hunt early! Create a spreadsheet with all the details for your favorite options: where they’re from, the cost, and a direct link. Often times you can order free or inexpensive samples to make sure you’re going with your favorite option. Starting the hunt early also means that you can watch for any sales or coupon codes coming down the pipeline. Regardless of what you choose, your invitation suite should be a reflection of you and your partner’s style, so have fun with it and choose what suits you best!

I Do! (Not Know Where to Begin) Month 1: Finding My Bride Tribe

header.jpg

Welcome back friends!

Today we’re going to talk about a subject near and dear to my heart: picking your bridal party. If I’m being honest, this is something I’ve thought long and hard about for years. And in that time, a lot of people have changed on the list! When we decided to keep the wedding small, I knew that it also meant that I would want to keep my bridal party small. I have so many amazing friends that I would love to have stand by my side for my big day, but if I had them all up there, who would be our guests?!

All wrapped up!

All wrapped up!

There are a lot of politics involved, and I really didn’t want to deal with that. I know we’re going to deal with that when it comes to trimming down the guest list. This should be a fun and simple choice. Traditionally you don’t need to pick your bridesmaids until the 9-12 month mark. But seeing as we’re two years out, I’m stretching the timeline a bit and didn’t want to wait that long (especially because they already knew!). That’s one of my favorite parts about having all this time before the wedding, I can really take my time to ensure that I’m doing things exactly how I want, and I have way more flexibility in when they get done. You can see our traditional one year timeline here and my modified two year timeline that I’m following here! So the decision came down to this: who am I the closest with? Who are those people that I talk to constantly and trust with my life? Like I said, there are so many great friends who would be wonderful bridesmaids, but three people were miles ahead here. My sister, my cousin (who is like a second sister), and my best friend for as long as I can remember (who is also like another sister).

At first I didn’t like the idea of having an odd number of bridesmaids, but I decided that the number isn’t what matters. I don’t have anyone else that I would put on that same level and if I started to branch out, I felt like I would get into that territory where I could potentially hurt someone’s feelings. I know it’s no fun to expect to be in someone’s bridal party and then not get asked. So by keeping it nice and small, I felt really confident in my ladies. Not that I need to justify my choices to anyone, but sometimes with the politics of wedding planning, it really feels like you do! I know that people will look at my bridal party and think “oh yeah, that makes total sense.”

Just a little something fun!

Just a little something fun!

So this was all my thought process before I even had that ring on my finger. Which meant that they all knew it and once we were engaged, I had to backpedal a little bit! Even though they knew I would be asking them, I still wanted to get them each a little something special because you only ask your girls to be your bridesmaids once! So to Etsy I went. I went personalized everything, because why not. Cute little boxes with their names on them, makeup bags with their names on them, knot bracelets with their initial on them, and probably the most perfect card I could ever find. “Now act surprised like you had no idea this was coming.” I’ll take three, please.

I think it’s so fun to get your girls a little something, especially knowing all the time and energy they’re going to be putting into helping you with your big day. Nothing crazy, but just a little something that says “I appreciate you!” I’m so lucky to have three amazing ladies to make up my tribe and so happy they all said “yes” to standing by my side! That’s a wrap for the month one breakdowns, but be sure to stay tuned because we’re only a couple weeks away from diving into month two and all things guest list, photographer, and more!

I Do! (Not Know Where to Begin) Month 1: The Venue Hunt

header.jpg

Hi friends!

Jill here again. In case you missed last week’s introduction, I just got engaged and am starting the wedding planning process while sharing all the real time details and steps with all of you! I hope that this can give you some direction in planning your own big day, especially if you’re an everyday girl with an average budget just like me. Today we’re talking all things venue-hunting. Buckle up, because this one has some bumps in the road!

Before we got engaged, our original plan had been a fall 2020 wedding (October 10th to be exact, because how cool would it be to say your anniversary is 10/10/2020?!), but upon engagement we decided to try and get things together for an October 2019 wedding instead. Well, friends, that was probably one of the most stressful weeks of my life. I reached out to 20+ venues, all of which were already completed booked solid for October 2019, many of which already were partially or completely booked for October 2020 as well. On top of dealing with the venue search, we were being overwhelmed with love and support from friends and family -- which is great, don’t get me wrong -- and the chorus of “when’s the wedding?!” already beginning one week in.

Off to venue hunt!

Off to venue hunt!

We hit a point where we pretty much accepted that it was going to be a 2020 wedding and that there was a good chance that it wouldn’t be on 10/10 either. From there, the pieces sort of fell into place. It’s amazing how life works out when you just accept that things will be what they will be! We re-visited our list of venues that we liked, narrowed it down to a handful that were in our ideal budget and location zone and reached out for their availability. For round one, two of the three had 10/10 open and a third had a later October date available, so we set up venue tours.

Melissa, Parsimony’s Owner and Creative Director, impressed on me the importance of viewing multiple locations of different caliber and style to really get a feel for what we want and what our options are. That being said, if you don’t have the budget for a $10,000 venue, don’t go see it. Because chances are you’ll fall in love and then be crushed when you can’t afford it or you’ll compare every other venue to what you saw there. That last condition crossed quite a few options off our list! It’s also extremely important to review what is and isn’t included in your venue fee. Are tables and chairs included, or will you have to rent those separately? Can you bring in whatever vendors you want, or are you stuck choosing from a preferred list? Does the venue host multiple weddings a day, or are you the sole occupant for your day? If catering is only in house, do you have minimum spending amounts? You can download the full list of questions I asked here. The cost of catering can really come into play quickly with your budget as well. Many of the places I started to look at had low venue fees, but astronomical food minimum spending requirements that knocked them out of the running. That’s fine for some people with larger guest lists and budgets, but we just aren’t looking to drop $15,000 on food for one day. This is why it’s really important to know what is included with your venue fees. Is it just for the space, or is catering included? It can be really deceiving to see a venue with a super low fee only to find out something like this where it’s crazy pricing for the in-house catering. Definitely keep that in mind during your venue hunting process!

Exploring venues in person proved to show a huge difference at times from what you see online. It’s almost like house shopping where you look at the space and think “hmm, they must’ve really gotten up into this corner to get a great angle to make this space look so large online.” Smaller spaces, deteriorating conditions at times… it was certainly an eye-opener! Driving all the way out to places, having a great tour, only to be told that they actually aren’t available on the date they said they were, but that they have a Friday open instead. It was definitely a frustrating process at times. After our tours, we had a favorite of the three. It was a beautiful location, checked most of our boxes, was budget friendly, and had 10/10 open. But something just didn’t feel totally right. We took a few days to really think things over and weigh our options. It’s difficult when you feel like you’re up against a clock and dealing with a budget. Was this the best we were going to get for our price point? Can we overlook the things that didn’t really align with our vision for the day? After reaching out to a few more venues, we decided that yes, we thought this was probably going to be our best option, so we asked to see a copy of the contract to start reviewing.

Then, my mom threw us a curveball.

This, my friends, is a perfect example of “it doesn’t hurt to ask.” My mom had mentioned a specific venue to me on multiple occasions and I basically just assumed it was way out of our budget from places in the same area. Well, my mom decided to put in an inquiry to find out some more information. And man, are we glad that she did! Not only did they come in right around (if not slightly under) the same price point of the first option, but it was absolutely beautiful. We immediately set up a viewing to go see it in person. And let me tell you, it did NOT disappoint. Like I said, the price point was right where we wanted it but our dollar went much further at this place. I think it actually checks all the boxes on our list. While it’s a little further out of our initial radius, we easily conceded that point for all the added pros it has over the other locations we looked at. I really think it’s going to be the perfect location for our wedding!

Moral of the story: it doesn’t hurt to ask and never settle! Go with your gut. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Sure, we would have had a wonderful and beautiful wedding at the first location, but the second place really just blows things out of the water. Ask questions, review your options, and really just don’t give up! Researching a variety is key if you ask me. We went from looking at a big venue that can host up to almost 200 people to a venue specifically designed for smaller, more intimate weddings that max out at 90 people. Not only did the spaces seem to fit what we were looking for more, but because they’re expecting smaller groups, it was priced much more accordingly.

Not only did we find a perfect venue (for us) but we got our date… 10/10/2020. Things have a funny way of working themselves out. All that’s left is to dot the I’s and cross the T’s and we’ll officially have our venue!

I Do! (Not Know Where to Begin) Month 1: First Steps

header.jpg

Hey friends!

If we haven’t already met, hi, my name is Jill and I’m the Editorial Director here at Parsimony. This company is my heart and soul, so when I recently became engaged and we discussed my writing a column in real time to share the struggles and ups and downs of the planning process, I couldn’t wait to start! Coming from a background in the wedding industry, you would think that I would have been adequately prepared to start this journey -- I thought so too, but NOPE! I’m just your average girl with an average sized budget trying to create my dream wedding. Each month, I’ll share what’s been going on in the planning process. The highlights, the struggles, what I expected versus the reality… all the good stuff. When applicable, we’ll also provide resources and downloads that have made my life easier along the way. So with that being said, let’s dive in!

Our “we’re engaged” selfie!

Our “we’re engaged” selfie!

It’s been almost one month since I said “yes.” Which seems totally crazy! It’s certainly been a whirlwind month to say the least. I think once the initial crying and jumping up and down wore off, it was almost like a “what now?” kind of moment! A million things on the to do list immediately jumped into my head. The first being: we need to tell people… the right way. This meant making sure that all our loved ones found out from us and not from social media. We sat down and made a list of those people (romantic, right?) and decided we were going to hold off on social media for a few days. By the end of the night, we were completely exhausted from all the phone calls, facetimes, and texts we exchanged with friends and family. We gave ourselves a few days to just soak it all in and get some nice pictures before we went public with it.

You can mentally prepare yourself as much as you want, but I don’t think you’re ever fully prepared to announce your engagement and have so many people reach out to congratulate you. People you haven’t spoken to in years will come out of the woodwork. People whose numbers you don’t even have in your phone anymore will text you. And some of these people will even ask if they’re invited… awkward! My best advice is to smile and just roll with the punches, things will quiet down after the initial excitement wears off. Laugh off the questions about when the wedding will be and just say you’re enjoying the moment and excited to experience engaged life. You don’t owe anyone any answers but just remember how lucky you are to have so many people who care and love you enough to want to share the happiness of your big news!

IMG_6562.JPG

Now when it comes to the actual planning, the first step is definitely sitting down and establishing a budget. We had a rough estimate of what we wanted to spend, but after sitting down and looking at average costs, we made some adjustments. It’s also a time to consider whether or not you’ll accept any assistance offered by loved ones and whether or not that will affect your budget or if it’ll just save you money from the original bottom line. It’s important to have a clear-cut established budget right off the bat to make sure you aren’t going wild only to find out you spent 75% of your budget on a venue. We have a great outline illustrating what percentage of your budget should be used for what category. You can download the worksheet here!

In our budget meeting, we reviewed a couple of venues to get a feel for what we were both looking for and discussed general ideas and came up with a first round guest list. We both want a small wedding, so we’re looking at a max of 70 people thanks to my large, close-knit family. Style, guest list count, and budget will be three of the biggest factors in your venue hunt, so make sure you discuss them before you start seriously looking.

From here, the real fun begins! Your next step will be officially starting the venue hunt, which I can pretty much guarantee you, will be an adventure. We’ve had quite the wild ride with this one, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it next week!


Our Favorite Fall-Themed Favors Your Guests Are Sure to Love!

We love a bride who’s really dedicated to incorporating her chosen season into the wedding. One way to do that is with your guest favors. We love a great seasonal-themed favor! It really ties things together and adds to the overall feel of your event. Fall (and really winter too!) is the season where you start to break out all things cozy. For that reason, we love the idea of things like blankets or scarves, candles too! Blankets especially can be useful if you’re opting for an outdoor ceremony in the crisp fall air. We also never say no to an edible favor! Pretty much apple anything -- caramel apples, apple butter, apple ciders, cider donuts, etc. -- is usually a fall crowd pleaser. We also love things like honeys, maple syrup, or even a nice little olive oil set. Individual s’mores kits are fun, too! If you’re looking for something non-edible, customized coffee mugs are also a fun idea and token to send your guests home with. After all, who isn’t snuggling up with a nice warm mug of cocoa this time of year?

Wedding Details: Open vs. Assigned Reception Seating

Wedding planning is no walk in the park. As things start to wind down as details fall into place, the last thing you want to do is create a guest seating chart for your reception. We realize that it’s a daunting task, so you might start asking the questions “do I really need a seating chart?” While at the end of the day that decision is up to you and your partner, we default to a resounding YES! The degree to which you decide is another step entirely, which we’ll dive into more here today.

So why is some form of seating chart so important? One of the biggest pieces of assigned guest seating at your wedding is organization. Having a seating chart avoids chaos and a mad rush to get a “good seat.” Showing forethought and putting in the effort to consider best seats is also a great way to show your guests you care. If assigned seating seems to inflexible to you, consider escort cards. This is like seating but you assign table numbers versus exact seats. So when you’re just assigning tables, where they sit at the table is entirely up to the guests! The organization is quite necessary, for more reasons than you may realize.

If you opt for open seating, you need to be prepared to rent more seats than you have guests. Certain tables will fill up quickly and you risk guests bringing additional chairs to tables and leaving some empty. This brings back the time old issue of people feeling left out and being left at a table alone, while another table is overflowing with people. It’s best to avoid the drama and just set the tables ahead of time.

If you’re a big organization fan, a full on guest seating chart may be for you! This is the most formal and traditional option, and definitely time consuming, but takes out any variability. You’ll have name cards at each place setting, so instead of assigning tables, it’s the exact seat. We love some good organization, so if you’re feeling inclined to go with this option, you go girl!




Help! Do I Need A Day-Of Coordinator?

Image Source: @aisleplanner

Image Source: @aisleplanner

Wedding planning… it is not easy. If you’ve made it through the process solo, congrats, that’s a huge accomplishment! You clearly know what you want and will do what it takes to make it happen. But what happens when it comes to your big day? Unfortunately, it’s unrealistic to think you’ll be able to both oversee everything is being done correctly (and on time) and enjoy your big day. That’s where a day-of coordinator comes into play. While some brides opt to skip the coordinator, there are a lot of pros to hiring one. Today we’re going to break everything down to help you make the best educated decision you can for your situation.

Image Source: @theweddingpic

Image Source: @theweddingpic

What is a Day-Of Coordinator?

A day-of coordinator does just that -- coordinates your wedding day! They’ll oversee all the details you’ve spent months designing and setting up and ensure everything goes according to plan.

What’s included in their role?

While the exact details will vary from person to person, there’s a general feel to what most cover as a minimum. Part of this includes keeping the day running on schedule. They’ll help you create your timeline, connect with all of the vendors and confirm details, and collect your gifts and personal items at the end of the night. They’ll most likely be the last person to leave at the end of the night to make sure things run as smoothly as possible. Most likely, they’ll help with the running of your rehearsal as well. Often times, your “day-of” coordinator is more of a “month-of” coordinator. You’ll meet with them to go over all of the details for a smooth transition into them running the show.

Image Source: @mkewendi

Image Source: @mkewendi

Why hire a coordinator?

Our number one reason to hire a coordinator is simple: peace of mind. It’s your big day, you shouldn’t be stressed about whether or not all those little details are falling into place or if things are being overlooked. If the caterers are all set up or the cake is in the right place. You should be focused on yourself and creating memories! A coordinator will handle all of those things and more.

Keep The Festivities Rolling with a Post-Wedding Brunch!

Image Source: The Knot

Image Source: The Knot

The best way to prevent those post-wedding blues? Host a post-wedding brunch the morning after your big day! We love setting aside some time for you to continue the celebrations with your loved ones and hear their favorite parts about the previous day. This is a great way to thank your guests once again for making the haul to your event and an awesome send off for the happy couple as well. But how do you go about hosting the brunch? We’re breaking it down for you today.

Image Source: @brayanmess

Image Source: @brayanmess

Where do we host?

The most convenient option is to just host the event at your hotel, assuming that you reserved a hotel block and most people will be in the same location, or at least nearby! The bottom line is to keep it convenient for your guests to get to, especially if they traveled out of town for the event. If you’re having your reception at the same location, you may be able to work out some sort of package deal/discounted pricing. Keep this a nice casual event -- no need for seating charts or a theme here -- to recount the festivities together.

What do we serve?

The caterer or hotel staff will be able to walk you through your options here. Most likely, you’ll be able to select options for a buffet, or if it’s a smaller group, guests can pick right from the menu. This will vary depending on your venue, but everyone loves a good brunch, so don’t stress too much over the menu! Keep it simple with the traditional waffles, eggs, fruit, yogurt, etc. Bloody Mary’s and mimosas are always nice, but make sure you don’t forget the coffee, too!

Image Source: @sanacateringmarbella

Image Source: @sanacateringmarbella

How do we know who’s coming?

This is a great thing to put in your invitations! Include all the details on location and timing for the brunch on a separate note in your invitations so that guests are aware it is happening. On your RSVP cards, include a box for them to check as to whether or not they plan to attend the brunch in addition to your ceremony or not. This will give you, and in turn your caterer/venue, the proper head count for that morning’s food. Make note: you do NOT need to invite everyone who was invited to the wedding! It’s perfectly acceptable to keep it small and just with your families and closest friends if that’s what you prefer.

What’s a good time to start?

You can set whatever window works for you (and your venue!). We typically think of brunch as something running from 10 am through 2 pm. If your reception and after party are running into the wee hours of the morning, you can always shift it back to an 11 am start time if you think that will be better suited for yourselves and your guests.

How to Keep Your Relationship Strong Through The Wedding Planning Stress

Image Source: Brit + Co.

Image Source: Brit + Co.

Let’s be real, planning a wedding can be extremely stressful and take a toll on your relationship. Who’s making the guest list, who’s not, where are people sitting, what flowers are we picking… the list goes on and on. That’s why it’s extra important to make sure you’re taking the necessary time to keep your relationship strong and healthy amid all the stress and tension. After all, if the stress gets to you, then you may end up not walking down the aisle at all! So today, we’re sharing our top tips to keep your relationship healthy throughout your planning process and beyond.

Image Source: Dancing and Dessert

Image Source: Dancing and Dessert

Communication

It may sound cliche, but communication really is key! Always be sure that you can be open and honest with your partner. It’s important that you’re able to share your feelings with one another. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, tell them! If you’re feeling hurt, tell them. It doesn’t have to be negative either, make sure you’re giving them reminders of how happy you are to be with them and excited to walk down the aisle for your “I do’s.”

Date Nights

Commit to a weekly date night. Sure, this can be difficult with your busy schedules, but it’s really important to make time for yourselves. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but make sure you’re getting out of the house to do something special together. No talk of planning, just be focused on enjoying each other’s presence.

Quality Time

Aside from your date nights, make sure the time you are spending together is quality time. It’s fine to snuggle up on the couch and watch some Netflix, but make sure you’re also taking the time to connect and talk about your days, too. Don’t have your phones out and simply coexist. Really make the time meaningful together. Maybe you want to go for a walk around the neighborhood or even just play a game at home. This can be a breath of fresh air in the middle of your planning craziness!

Image Source: Junebug Weddings

Image Source: Junebug Weddings

Love Languages

Learn your love languages! Have you ever heard of these? There are 5 of them: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. Figure out what your partner’s love language is and adjust accordingly.

Find the Humor

At the end of the day, you have to find ways to make the best of the craziness and the situation. Focus on the positives and do what you can to find the humor in the day. Keeping things light can be helpful!

Prenup or Not? Things To Consider In Your Decision

Image Source: Brides

Image Source: Brides

We know, we know, the idea of discussing how to handle the end of your marriage before it even begins isn’t appealing. But hear us out, there can be many pros to having this legally binding agreement in place, even though you hope to never need to use it. Prenuptials aren’t just for couples with a lot of money or income inequalities either, they can be a good idea for couples in any financial situation. This gives you the opportunity to lay all your financial cards on the table, make sure you and your partner are on the same page, and have a game plan moving forward.

Contrary to popular belief, even if you maintain separate “personal” bank accounts after your marriage, the law sees all assets as combined. So in the event of a separation, your spouse is entitled to half the amount in your personal account. A prenup gives you the opportunity to give stipulations to how you want to divide assets in the event of a divorce. If you’re getting married, we would hope that you’ve had open and honest financial discussions, but if you’ve failed to do so up until this point, planning out a prenup could be an eye-opening experience.

Image Source: Today

Image Source: Today

There are some pros to having a prenup -- obviously, or else no one would get them! Some of the biggest ones that we like to highlight are that if you’re coming into the relationship with family inheritance, you can write that in to be preserved if things turn south. If you’re coming into the marriage with children from previous marriages, you can ensure that they’re taken care of and protected. It also prevents a nasty battle over assets because most things will already be laid out.

People have a lot of negative thoughts and feelings towards prenuptials. For example, many see it as planning the end of a relationship before it begins, or that there’s a lack of trust between the couple. While it’s certainly not romantic and can definitely cause a bit of tension, that doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s a lack of trust. If your partner wants a prenup, have an open discussion and understand that they want to make sure you are both covered if things go downhill.

Image Source: Huffington Post

Image Source: Huffington Post

If you do opt for a prenuptial, keep a few things in mind throughout the process. First off, make sure you hire separate legal counsel to ensure both parties are fairly represented in the discussions. Be honest and open in your discussions. Make sure you’re fully disclosing all relevant information and assets, if you fail to disclose or are found to have hidden assets in the process, the prenuptial can be voided. Make sure you come to an end result that you are both happy with. Just because you plan on never having to use the document doesn’t mean you should settle with something that’s unfair or not to your liking!