Winter Wedding Reception Trend Alert: Bring the Outside In

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This past weekend I attended a grand wedding (congrats again, Joey and Megs!) at the Crowne Plaza Grand Hotel in downtown Indianapolis.  Part of the historical Union Station, this black tie optional, evening event was nothing short of opulent and amazing!  Truly, it was a dream :)

I could go on and on with things I found interesting and appealing, but rather than bore the blogosphere with my rampant ramblings, I’ll focus on one trend that really stood and has been supported by the likes of David Tutera and Martha Stewart… and that’s to bring the outside world into your indoor celebration!

With outdoor and rustic weddings becoming more and more popular with each coming year, it’s no wonder that this kind of decorating detail is nothing short of HUH-UGE to winter wedding settings.  Sure, every one loves the extravagance of crystal chandeliers and dazzling icicle designs for winter’s wedded bliss, but there is a warmth and richness that comes from bringing in the beauty of nature to your big day!

While the Crowne Plaza in Union Station – a majestically reformed old train station – is already a ahhh(to the)mazing setting in and of itself… see for yourselves below :)

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Joey and Megan did a spectacular job at bringing the outside in with grand scaled centerpieces and rustic details, which paried perfectly with the old train station charm.  It was the kind of eye-catching beautiful that you would normally see in the movies.  And I mean that in the most literal sense possible: my eyes were caught and feverishly dancing from detail to detail in mad procession.

While J & M decided to bring the outside in with rustically matched decor, that’s not the only way winter brides can exploit this trend!

Consider dangling icicle lights to create either an outdoor crystallizing effect or rather, a wintery starlit sky, like below…

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Bring in branches, and create a look that has storybook fairytale written all over it.  You can even do it in HD color like a David Tutera dream…

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…orrr keep it simple, sleek and chic in all white…

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Combine one of the looks above with lots and LOTS of candles, and you’ll create a wintery look that is both merry, bright and bound to delight!

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Fill your space wisely with snowflake lighting that not only looks spectacular, but also functions seamlessly:

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But no matter what you do, just be sure to have fun with it!

Uplifting Engagement Pictures: Adding Props to Pre-Wedding Shots

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It has been said that when you’re in love, you could be one or all of the following:

  • on cloud nine
  • *twitter*pated
  • walking on air
  • have your head in the clouds
  • swept off your feet
  • head over heels in LOAF!
  • lifted to new levels
  • carried away
  • walking on sunshine (woah oh!)
  • etc.

Seriously, the list goes on and on, people.  But if we’re being real with ourselves, it’s no coincidence that each and every single saying has something to do with defying gravity.  Because like defying gravity, the laws of love – when felt and captured by two people in full swoon – defies all logic.

Hence, why I’m such a fan of balloons in photo shoots for engagement pictures.  They’re fun.  They’re colorful.  They’re floaty.  (& yeah, that’s totally a word and totally important for ascertaining the importance of these helium-filled flyers.)  They also come in about a schmillion different shapes, sizes, patterns and assortments.

Not to mention, balloons are an incredibly cheap solution for livening up any engagement sess!  I would also like to point out that helium is a limited resource (true story!); so, it’s best to get it while you can and immortalize Atomic No. 2 in pictures you’ll treasure for years! (& yeah, I totally knew the periodic table position of helium, ha!)

Anyhoot, while the idea of adding props, costumes, pictures frames, faux mustaches and the like to engagement photos is not a new concept, I knew after watching Disney’s Up last night and coming across an archived folder on my desktop of balloon featured engagement pics, it was nothing short of a sign to share it with all you!

If nothing else, they are SUPER CUTE to look at :)  Love love love the ones where it appears they couples are actually floating away :)

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Wedding Day Must: Remember Your Favorite Faces with Pretty Panoramics

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Exclusive / Schmeglusive.

Whoever said exclusivity makes something superior is seriously mistaken.  This year, brides and grooms are taking it back to the old school (because I’m an old fool, who’s so cool… bah, couldn’t resist) with the ever famous, turn-of-the-century-inspired, all inclusive wedding portrait.

In typical watch-the-birdy fashion, couples are having their guests take a minute and say cheeeeese for the camera as a collective group.  These popular panoramics are a super fun way to remember all the people who celebrated the day you said ‘I do’… not to mention, they can make for one incredibly laughable experience!

Because the size of guest lists varies from couple to couple, it’s EXTREMELY important to keep your number in mind when creating the shot.  You need to be sure to work with your photographer and find just the right location.  Ideally, the best location would be found directly in or right next door to your ceremony site.  That way, all your guests are already together and your celebrant can inform them of the photo op before mass chaos ensues and a mad dash to the reception begins.

OBVI – the larger the number, the harder the shot; so, keep this in mind when finding your spot.  Consider areas with an aerial view or places with large staircases where guests can be staggered and tiered.  If your numbers get too high and the shot becomes too difficult, consider doing something more abstract… be less concerned about capturing every single face, and be more concerned with simply having everyone there for a more spirited shot.  Check out below for some examples :)

Take the shot from above to show some serious love :)


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Use a staircase to see every face :)

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Try something artsy… you’ll feel super smart-sy :)

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But no matter what you do or if you even do it… just be sure to enjoy your day and all the people that go with it!

Congratu-gagement: Diamond Rings Ring in the New Year

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One of my favorite parts of a New Year is all the new bling that starts popping up amongst family and friends.  With the gift giving season picking in December, it’s no wonder that so many young men choose this time to get down on one knee and ask the four words so many women long to hear, “Will you marry me?”

While I love love loved everything about my wedding day, and the marriage has been one increds journey… I must confess that there was something sooo special and exciting about the planning process.  I like to tell brides it’s kind of like a 12-18 month long Christmas Eve.  With all the anticipation swimming around the talk of the big day, one can’t help but feel butterflies of excitement on the daily!  And according to, here are the top ten things newly engaged brides-to-be should do:

  1. Start a Wedding Planner.  Create a beautiful keepsake to house all your favorite engagement memories… from the down-on-one-knee story to favorite photos, inspiration ideas, to-do lists, favorite designers, venues, caterers and more!  Trust and believe, by taking a little time here and there from the beginning to end, you’ll easily have one of the best memory books evs!
  2. Plan an Engagement Party.  Whether you choose to throw one for yourself or let others take on the celebratory task, having an engagement party is a great way to officially announce your nuptials to family and friends, all while rejoicing in your love.  Plus, it’s one more reason to get out some pre-wedding partying!
  3. Pick a Date.  First things first.  You can’t start reserving venues or hiring vendors without knowing the date you’ll need them; so, be sure this is one of the first things you check off your list.
  4. Set a Budget.  Along with selecting a date, setting a budget is key in planning your big day.  After you know what kind of finances you’re working with, you’ll know what kind of wedding day to plan for.  From the most elaborate and over-the-top to the simply chic, DIY shindigs, all weddings must first start with a  feasible price tag to work around.
  5. Find a Reception Site.  Generally speaking, a couple uses over 50% of their overall budget on their reception; so, it’s important to find the one that works best for you and reserve it right away!
  6. Make a Wedding Website.  This is a great way to keep track of all your to-do’s, as well as provide information to family and friends as plans come along.  This is an especially useful tool for out-of-towners you hope to attend who will need to make transportation and hotel reservations.
  7. Consider a Consultant.  Many brides-to-be like the thought of hiring a professional to help ensure their big day goes off without a hitch, but if this isn’t in your budget, consider taking advantage of your family friends – especially moms and already wed maids – to help cross your t’s dot your i’s.  It’ll make them feel important and help take some of the stress off you!
  8. Start a Guest List.  One of the biggest factors in planning your wedding (and maintaining a budget) will all come down to the number of people you invite.  By merging two sets of family and friends, it’s important for everyone to have a voice and make sure all their A-listers are included!
  9. Find a Wedding Dress. YESSSS!  One of the BEST parts of being a bride is of course the wedding dress.  Try on lots of styles.  Search lots of websites, and have fun with it.  Most of us (hopefully) only want to do this once; so, make sure you make it count!
  10. Plan for Pro Engagement Pictures.  While the wedding day and all the days leading up to it will come and go, the photography will live on forever.  So, it’s oh so important for every couple to find their perfect photographer and get in a pre-wedding practice round with engagement pictures before the big day.  These can also be the shots your use for everything from your newspaper announcement to invites and more! 

Winter Wonderland Weddings with Snowflake & Icicle Inspired Décor

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There is just something so magical about winter weddings.  The crisp weather.  The sparkly icicles.  The slow falling snow.  The dazzling night skies.  It’s a perfect setting for romance, snuggling up and dancing the night away with the one you love the most.

And after looking through several of these Frosty the Snowman inspired designs – featuring intricate lighting, crystallized ice sculptures and baby’s breath centerpieces – it’s super hard for me to believe that Old Man Winter remains the least popular season to say ‘I do.’

Below are some of my favorite wintry wonders.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

A dash of twinkling baby’s breath can make all the difference.

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Sprinkle in snowflake lighting to really make ‘em ooh and ahh.

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Drizzle your decor with draped crystals and create the look of poshly lit icicles.

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Sculpt an impeccable setting with ice, mini floras and fur (yes fur!!)

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Cover up with a chic cardigan and take your gown to celebrity status.

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Or for the super sassy, try a frisky fur wrap!

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Make your cake top pop with Old Man Winter’s prettiest creations.

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Surround your guest with chilling-inspired love from floor to ceiling — this is by FAR my fave!!!

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Real Life Wedding: Falling in Love is BEST Packaged by Family Fun

The gorgeous bride and her handsome groom. (courtesy of

Recently I had the distinct pleasure of not only attending but also rockin’ it out as a bridesmaid at my cousin Kimberly Lynn’s wedding.  Marrying the man of her dreams, the former Ms. Kidwell wed Brian Mitchell during a b.e.a.uuuutiful fall fiesta ceremony in the heartland of the Midwest.  Surrounded by their closest 450 - give or take – family and friends, the duo said “I do” at Kim’s childhood parish, St. Barnabus Catholic Church on October 15, 2011.

It was a celebration for the ages, sprinkled with all things fabulous, and to say it was a joy to be a part of it all would merely be the tip of the excitement iceberg!  As many weddings as I’ve attended (Kim and Brian’s marking the 50th the Mister and I have attended together alone!), it never ceases to amaze me at how original each one is… how the individuality of the bride, her groom and their families seem to take the same occasion and mark it with something genuinely unique, something uniquely them… I’m telling you, it’s something nothing short of amazeballs.

And because it’s always such an honor to be included in a celebration, I like to glorify the creativity of each by sharing it with the masses (you’re welcome, haha!) and posting it for all to see!  Below are some of my favorite parts… feel free to be inspired:

Post Rehearsal / Pre-Wedding Slumber Party.  Kim had all the girls over for a final Girl’s Night In after the rehearsal, and in a word, it was fantastic.  Giving one of the best attendant gifts ever, we celebrated the evening by watching one part of the gift,  Bridesmaids and secretly “ooh’ing and aww’ing” the other… unique bridesmaids’ jewelry – picked out by the bride herself – for us to where on the occasion.  Love love love!

How much do you la-Louvre those colors together? (courtesy of Google Images)

Killer Color Combo.  As sampled above with the bracelets, the colors were purple, orange and green.  The mother of the bride, my fabulous Aunt Gail, is a DIVA when it comes to decor; so, there was no doubt that the wedding would be nothing short of F.I.E.R.C.E. when it came to its overall layout… and I have to admit, just looking at the floral arrangements alone, you can see just how fierce it was… Tyra Banks, eat your heart out!

And yes, that would be my bouquet barely peaking in on the right and me totally cut out. Yep, haha! (courtesy of

The Bride wore Purple Pumps.  Keeping in theme with the wedding day and the trendy modern bride, Kimmi sported her best plum pumps for the occasion, and showed off her boogie shoes in style!

I wanna put on, my my my my my Boogie Shoes, and boogie with you! (courtesy of

Crowd Pleasing Priest, personalized by friendship.  Being graduates of the local Catholic high school (Roncalli, what?), Kim and I had the pleasure of seeing one of our former classmates (and prom kings!), Dustin Boehm, reach the high honor of joining the priesthood.  Kimmi decided no other priest would do, and Dustin, errr, cough cough, Father Boehm was the one chosen to oversee the whole newlywed nuptials!  He did such a Tony the Tiger GRRREEEAAAT job!

Father Boehm in person and in action! (courtesy of yours truly and

Father of the Bride Speech, marked with Love.  So, being a complete sentimental nut, one of my favorite parts of a wedding day is always the time honored father of the bride speech, and my Uncle Rich did not disappoint!  One of the best parts was when he totaled to the years of marriage Kim and Brian had backing them between the families, and because the Kidwell side is such a force to be reckoned with… he had all of us stand up and officially welcome Brian to the fam… all 900 and couting.  Haha! 

Kim giving her Papa a hug after his speech, so sweet! (courtesy of yours truly!)

Ceremony Shoes + Reception Runners.  Kim’s nephews, Jackson and Austin, rocked it out as ring bearers and were both equipped with wedding shoes for the ceremony and running shoes for the reception.  Genius.  I also like how they took it upon themselves to ditch their jackets, ties and tuxedo shirts as well.  Ahhh, boys :)

Work it out, Jackson! (courtesy of yours truly)

Glorious Groom’s Cake.  Vastly becoming one of my favorite parts of the reception, their Groom’s Cake was one of the best I’ve ever seen!  Courtesy of Cheryl Blessing of, K+B’s groom’s cake was representative of their hometown pride and their fanatical love for the NFL.  Kim, being a born and raised Indy girl, loves the Colts, and go figure, she falls in love with a Illinois native / Chicago Bear extremist.  Yep.  I can hope their kids are smart enough to make the right choice ;)

Touchdown perfection! (courtesy of

Epically assembled with dance circles, laughter and all kinds of greatness, I could go on and on (and ON!) about Kim and Brian’s wedding, but sadly, like all good things, this post has to have an ending.  So, here’s to Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell…

As you sit side by side on the roller coaster of life, remember to scream at the peaks, hold hands through the dips, laugh through the loops and enjoy every twist and turn!  We love love love you and cheers to many years of happiness!

Wedding Day Trend Alert: Capture the Moment Without Spoiling the Tradition

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While traditionally speaking, it’s always been said to be bad luck for brides and grooms to see each other before the ceremony, we explored the benefits of kicking this tradition to the curb in our post, Catching a Glimpse ,and choosing to have a moment prior to the ceremony for just the two of you to see and be with each other.  Perks remain:

  • an intimate moment for just the two of you to share without having to share yourselves with everyone else
  • it not only creates beautifully candid shots of the two of you…
  • but it also can create time to get some of your “formal” wedding pictures out of the way (ie. bridal party, portraits, family shots, etc.) while everyone is at their freshest
  • and finally, can make for some uniquely beautiful memories

However – and this is a HUGE however - a girlfriend of mine (wad up, Linds!) sent me a link today exploring a ‘Behind the Door’ technique, which proves brides who are both trendy AND traditional can have her cake and eat it too when it comes to this!  (Sooo stinkin’  sad I didn’t think of it myself!)

The ‘Behind the Door’ technique puts you and your main squeeze right next to each other without revealing the way either one looks.  How, you might ask?  Well, by leaving a door – be it the one that enters into the bridal suite door or the church or wherever – and giving you a moment to hold hands, share in the moment and capture the memory… all without ever having to give up the tradition of the grand reveal! 

I mean how can you not love this idea?!?!  My hubs is my best friend.  He’s the one I talk to when I’m extremely happy or super sad or overly worried or incredibly annoying (you get the idea); so, it was very difficult to not have him there on the biggest day of our lives to share in that time with me.  Because we chose to stay on the side of tradition on our big day and didn’t see each other until my Papa walked me down the aisle — we felt it added to the anticipation and excitement of it all, we weren’t able to talk to each other :(  But if we would’ve done this, we could’ve had the BEST of BOTH worlds!  Check out Julie’s pics from her Peanut Butter Fingers Blog below:

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Summertime & the Living is Easy with HAWT Wedding Photography

It’s June 21, and for those of you who don’t know, today marks the official first day of summer!  Woot, woot!  That’s right.  After a long, cold winter and super rainy spring, it’s time for “livin to be easy!”

And what better way to celebrate it than with gorgeous wedding photography that captures it and all its happiness?  Below are some of the happiest; so, check ‘em out and ENJOY!

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Spotlight: Real Life Bride, True Life Friend & Bright Spot to Every Other Life She Touches

My unmistakable friend, Kimmi, on her wedding day! (photos courtesy of

This past weekend, the Mister and I had the distinct privilege of witnessing one of my favorite people in the whole world say “I do” to the man of her dreams, and if it’s alright with all of you, I’d like to share their fairytale now… 

I first met my dear friend, Kimberly Marie Kessel (now Mrs. Witchger!), freshman year of college during our four year stint at the greatest place on earth… IU Bloomington (siiiiighhhh).  And after nearly nine years of friendship, I can honestly say, she was and still is one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever been granted on my journey. 

An endearingly quirky and sincerely loyal friend to the core, Kimmi has been my greatest teacher in the meaning of unconditional friendship.  She has an innate way of making everyone around her feel appreciated and needed without the lull of motive or expectation.  Her giving nature knows no limits, and her selfless demeanor and unbound caring, have provided some of my life’s truest blessings. 

There wasn’t a single other person on the planet that I would’ve rather spent my “No Class Fridays” with – be it on a hung-over trip to the Wendy’s drive thru, an inevitably regretful trip to the tanning bed or a simple trip to our living room couches to watch Lifetime Movies (yeah, I said it) and anxiously await the return of our other roommates from class.

Kimmi’s the kind of girl everyone could use in their life, which is why I couldn’t have been happier when I first met her match, Billiam (pronounced Bill-lum because Kimmi already had a William and Liam in her life – haha!).  It was two Halloweens ago, and if seeing them paired as Harry and Lloyd from Dumb & Dumber didn’t scream “meant to be,” I don’t know what could!  **That would be them on the outside, surrounding Kim’s sister, brother-in-law and nephew.  (story cont’d below)


Now, my dear Kimmi has always been a creature of habit and doesn’t necessarily stray far from her comfort zone or unorthodox guidelines created, written and followed by hers truly.  While some may regard the reckless abandonment of proper etiquette and rules as discomforting, I should make it perfectly clear, Kimmi and her infectious personality are the ideal exceptions that prove this very rule… she’s simply too lovable to be considered anything less.  So, you can imagine all our surprise – after Billiam had been sent half way across the world to start a branch of his company in the South of China – that Kimmi was still willing to give it a go. 

We all knew after Billiam popped the Q, that there was a possibility for her to move; so, as time neared their December 18th wedding, the writing became clearer and clearer and was even spotlighted during the traditional Father of the Bride speech.  Mike Kessel – the ahhhmazing papa of Kimmi – laid claim to the fact that his family of four – he, his wife, Sandi and their two daughters, Dani and Kimmi – were pioneers. 

While they had family all across the US, they were the first four to venture into Indiana, which transitioned beautifully into the news that Kimmi and Billiam would be using the same pioneering skills for their move to South China… China… I just keep saying it, but it still seems unreal that our little Kimmi will be 7,200 miles away!! 

I mean, heck, this is the girl who would never let us say “goodbye,” because she didn’t like the permanent tone of it.  Instead, we had to replace all of our goodbyes with “just one second please’s;” as to soften the blow of the time we’d spend apart.  And now that our darling girl has married her Prince Charming, we’ll be provided with our lengthiest “just one second please” ever!  But funnily enough, I’m not worried in the least, because after seeing the two of them grow in love, there’s not a shadow of doubt in my mind that Kimmi and Billiam would be the best, most lovesick pioneers for journeying so far away!

Their day was marked by epic moments of firework displays, confetti explosions, influential nods to their Asian Sensation future, regally assembled peacock accents and an insanely popular photo booth (propped by me!), and if it’s any premise to their future, we can all look forward to a truly beautiful love story!  See what I mean… how freakin’ cute are those killer kimono bridesmaid gifts?? (story cont’d below)

All the pretty ladies getting ready! (photo courtesy of

Getting ready for their official entrance as Mr. & Mrs.! (photo courtesy of

Caught in the act heading up the elevator! (photo courtesy of

Such a happy couple - makes me smile! (photo courtesy of

Confetti explosion during the First Dance - GARG! (photo courtesy of

Warmed up with love! (photo courtesy of

Ha! Cutest! (photo courtesy of

Photo booths are genius :) (photo courtesy of

Good luck to the wonderful Witchgers!  May your journey be filled with more smiles, few tears and all the love and happiness you can handle!  Billiam, I know there’s no man who could possibly love our Kimmi better than you, and as Dani – Kimmi’s sister and Maid of Honor – said when she ended her toast:

As you sit side by side through the roller coaster of life, remember to scream at the peaks, hold hands through the dips, laugh through the loops and enjoy every twist and turn…  We love you, and cheers to many, MANY years of happiness :)

Give Your Reception a Touch of Nostalgia with Family Heirloom Photo Displays

photo courtesy of Google Images

So much of who we are is because of where we come from.  Our past and all the people in it not only mold us into the people we are today but will continue to shape us into the people we hope to be in the future.  Being a girl who comes from an extremely LARGE, extremely loving family, I can’t help but think of the old African proverb: It takes a village to raise a child.  But perhaps this is because there are enough members in my family to be a village.  Don’t believe me?  Check out this beast from the Mister and me’s wedding last year…

And that’s strictly just my dad’s side!!  Haha!  Gotta love it :)

Anyhoot, if you’re a bride that’s anything like myself, you more than likely want to have a wedding day celebration that’s just as wonderful for you, as it is for all the important people in your life.  Because without your village to support you, your life just wouldn’t be the same!!  Haha!

One way to do this is by displaying flashback family wedding pictures for all to see!  Heirloom wedding photos at the reception is not a new trend by any means, but all the ways brides are displaying them display is!  Whether brides choose to just set up pics from the days their parents said “I do” or go all out and include grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, you name it… is strictly up to you!

The Mister and I chose to use pics of our parents’ and grandparents’ wedding days, which were set up by the entrance to ensure that every one coming in could get their blast from the past early :)   I’ve also seen where other brides will actually use the cake cutting photos from their family photos to decorate their cake table or toasting photos at the head table.  Really it’s up to!

Just be sure to have fun with it…. because I can gosh darn guarantee you everyone else will have fun seeing them!