Who Pays for What at a Wedding?

Question Mark

Ok let’s face it…it’s 2014. Gone are the days when weddings were simple and with that came the simplicity of knowing who was supposed to pay for what at a wedding. With the national average of weddings costing $30,000, Dad’s of daughters are turning gray a whole lot sooner and offering “elopement packages” instead of going bankrupt. No one wants to foot the whole bill, but no one wants to have that awkward conversation with the other side’s family either. “Do they KNOW they are supposed to pay for that?”

Well, first of all, don’t ever assume that everyone knows what they are supposed to do. Nowdays, tradition has been kicked to the curb. Sometimes, it bothers me. Sometimes it makes sense. And sometimes it’s just the way things are. People are getting married older and paying for their own weddings while entrusting only a few things to mom and dad. Mr. and Mrs. get their “pinterest wedding” AND mom and dad breathe a sigh of relief. Sometimes, the groom’s family has a relative who offers to cater and in exchange the bride’s family will offer to pay for the honeymoon because Aunt Fran owns a travel agency. So sometimes it’s a win-win to buck tradition.

The important thing is clear communication. Don’t make assumptions. Also, be realistic. Understand that times (and the price of weddings) have changed and be considerate of people’s budgets. Remember to include step-parents and step-relatives in the appropriate manner. Sometimes this involves a very direct question of “what would you like to help with?” Often, everyone involved is far less insulted or offended by a direct question than by misguided assumptions. Especially if you can communicate your true goal–that you want them to feel included, and accurately represented in the entire wedding production.

Early communication is key as well. Don’t wait until the last minute to clarify if something is your job or not. Get it ironed out before everyone gets stressed out and exhausted.

The sooner everyone knows what tradition expects from them, the sooner everyone can have an open discussion about how they want to pay for your dream wedding. Here are some pointers to get you started:

Who Pays for What?

Bride pays for:

• Groom’s wedding band
• Gifts for groom and bridesmaids
• Gifts for your parents
• Groom’s tux and accessories

Groom pays for:

• Bride’s ring(s)
• Gifts for Bride and groomsmen
• Boutonniere’s for groom, fathers, grandfathers, and groomsmen
• Corsages (bouquets sometimes) for mothers and grandmothers
• Bouquet(s) for bride (this includes your toss bouquet)

Bride’s family pays for:

• Invitations
• Announcements
• Postage
• Wedding stationary
• Bride’s gown(s) and accessories
• Flowers and décor for ceremony and reception
• Ceremony and location fees
• Food and beverages
• Media expenses (photography/videography)
• Transportation rentals
• Entertainment and music at ceremony and reception
• Wedding cake
• Engagement party
• Pretty much any expense that isn’t allotted to someone else

Groom’s family pays for:

• Officiant fees (oftentimes this is a tip or gift. Also would cover any expenses related to the officiant.)
• Marriage License Fee
• Rehearsal dinner
• Honeymoon expenses

Hopefully by being objective in your approach, and attacking these questions honestly and head-on early, you can avoid unnecessary confusion and emotional hurt later on. You can plan confidently for your wedding knowing who’s paying for what. And most importantly, you can preserve the relationships of those closest to you without worry.


Let Love Light the Way: A Sleepy Hollow Stylized Shoot

The magazine release for the RSVP bridal issue happens tomorrow! I’m so excited about the release party and getting to see what our hard work for the Sleepy Hollow themed stylized shoot will look like.

I’m pretty sure everyone thought I was crazy when I first mentioned doing a “Sleepy Hollow” wedding themed shoot! It’s so weird and different and I think most people thought it would be tasteless and creepy. From the start, I was adamant that I wanted it to be different, but tasteful and something that people would look at and go “Hey! That’s such a neat idea! That’s really beautiful!” My two rules were: (1) Normal makeup and (2) Fog!

Our venue choices were the Old Alabama Town Chapel in downtown Montgomery, AL. I got a special treat when they showed me that there is also a carriage house…with a carriage inside! Oh yes!

For the mock reception, we chose Hampstead farms because of all the giant oaks and spanish moss.

We incorporated alot of solid color patterns: red, white, black, as well as brown from the branches and old woods we used. I wanted to pay homage to the black and white striped dress from the Sleepy Hollow movie so we tied in subtle hints of that in the bouquet ribbon and table runner.

I did not know this when I chose the theme, but last fall, a new TV Show started called…”Sleepy Hollow”! Perfect timing for me! I got some good inspiration every week from that:)

The shadow picture is proabably one of my favorites, however awkward and uncomfortable it may have been for my models. I wanted the subtle presence of a groom, and I love that it came out all ghost-y and zombie-like. The doughnuts were a fun touch (actually thought up by my friend Crystal) because doughnuts are hollow. Haha! We ended up making a printout that said “Follow me…where the doughnuts are hollow and the hollows are sleepy”. I love little touches like that. Beauty is in the details.


Florals were done by Flowers By Amanda (Amanda Rylant)


Milk and Doughnuts


Paper goods were contributed by High Cotton Paperie


Probably my favorite photo from the entire shoot and our header for the magazine spread.  Photography by Denise Edge of Honey B Photography


Averi’s hair was styled by Amber Herron at Elegant Styles.

IMG_8490 copy

Exceptional style and violin mastery by Elizabeth Kirk


A quiet moment.  I wanted the feel for this shoot to be intense, quiet, thoughtful.  Our model Averi Abercrombie pulled off every moment perfectly.


Stepping out of the carriage.  FOG!  Thanks to Stephen Taunton of Taunton productions for the effects–lighting and fog!






Brendle Rentals contributed the red pipe and drape as well as other props used.  I loved the use of candles and natural light for the ceremony.


Amanda provided two different bouquets.  Both were stunning!


Book roses are such a nice touch!



These ancient pews were screaming “Photograph me!” The whole time.  I really have never seen more beautiful pews!


Lantern in the woods.




Cake Design by Gwen Massey at ASE cakes and Catering.  She did a terrific job.  Loved the positioning on a barrel out under the trees in the sunset.  Spanish Moss!


Weird and wonderful.  We pulled it off well, don’t you think?  Don’t forget to pick up the 2014 Bridal Issue of RSVP Montgomery!

2014 Southern Bridal Faire: The post-blog

Well, this year’s bridal show has come and gone. In alot of ways it’s like planning a real wedding–days and months of work preparing = over in four hours. But it is fun every time and every time I get to meet new brides who are beaming with excitement. That makes it all worth it. Not to mention I met some great new vendors this year.

I thought the runway show was better last year (I couldn’t see this year because it was on the ground level.) The dresses I could see were beautiful–provided by Hoover based store Bustle Gowns I liked that many of them were pretty different from what I normally see. And we all know how much I love “different”.

I booked a ton of consultations from this year’s show and I’m so excited for every one I get to meet with! Every bride’s story is so unique. They all have their own personalities and I want to capture that in their wedding day so badly. Audrey HepburnThis year, the Antebellum Aisles booth went “Something Blue” with a Rustic take on Tiffany’s.  I felt like we pulled it off pretty well.

Bride gifts-“Something Blue” spatulas

Me and my booth!

Notice the mailbox?

Notice the mailbox?

Rustic Tiffany's bridal Show Backdrop

Tiffany’s boxes on Shepherd’s hooks for aisle markers!

Another Bridal Show under wraps.  Planning for next year already!

Five Reasons You Should Attend A Bridal Show

I’m kind of embarrassed to say this, but I had never been to a bridal show until 2011…after I started my business.  I went to one in Birmingham with a friend who was getting married.  It was delightful.

When I got married in 2006 the thought of going to bridal show didn’t really cross my mind because to  be honest…I didn’t really know what one would be like.  No, my wedding was not ruined because I missed out.  I was a girl who knew what I wanted and maybe it wouldn’t have made a difference.  At the end of the day I said “I do” and I have beautiful memories of that perfect day.

However, if someone had told me how awesome they were I probably would have gone.  So…I have 5 reasons all my brides (and grooms) know why you should attend at least one bridal show before you get married.

1. You will feel more confident in your choice of vendors.    You may think you have everything figured out, picked out, and squared away, but what if at a bridal show you tasted some devilishly delicious cake that changed your mind and made you rethink everything you thought was true in this world!?  Okay, it probably won’t be that dramatic, but it is a good idea to know what your options are.  Many times, a bride isn’t even aware of how many choices she has.  You may decide to stick with your first choices, but I guarantee you will be more confident in your decisions after you attend a bridal show.

2.  Prizes!  Free stuff.  WINNING!  Giveaways!  Many bridal shows offer free services from vendors.  The larger ones will often giveaway honeymoon trips.  Not to mention there are food samples coming at you from all angles and literally jumping into your mouth!  Need I say more?

3.  You will feel incredibly special.  Bridal shows are all about the bride.  From the photographers to fashion shows–every vendor is out to please you and make you want what they have to offer.  Wedding vendors are an incredibly happy and peppy bunch…we spend our days making the most of the best day of your life so…it’s kind hard not to be.  The energy at these bridal shows is incomparable and may be just what you need to slough off some planning stress.  And its cheaper than a massage;)

4.   It is a bonding experience.  Never ever come to one of these alone.  Bring your mom, the groom, your fiance’s mom, your maid of honor, your sister–make it a big deal.  It’s such a fun experience you will definately want to share it with someone!

5.  It’s inexpensive.  Most tickets are less than $10 and it is so worth it.  You really need to go to one.  Or two.

If you are looking for a WONDERFUL bridal show to attend, check out the Southern Bridal Faire!  Antebellum Aisles will have a  booth there!


5 totally off-the-wall crazy wedding themes that would actually be good!

I love to throw parties and I love a good theme. For example, check out the parties I have thrown in the past couple of years alone: ~pirates ~Dora ~virtual CLUE based off the board game ~redneck (that was easy) … Continue reading

7 Tips for Choosing a Classy Alternative Recessional

Everybody knows and loves Mendelssohn’s wedding march. Even at 5 years old I made sure my Barbies had this tune memorized as it was skillfully hummed at every plastic wedding. You’re humming it now too, aren’t you? Don’t lie.

There’s something warm and classic about watching a couple pronounced man and wife and then hearing this traditional music startup on an organ. However, as trends shift toward a mixture of vintage and customized elements, many couples are looking for ways to display their individuality through their music. This can be beautiful. Or it can be tragic. These are my tips to planning to a classy alternative recessional for your wedding as well as some song ideas.

1. The first step in this decision process is to know what musicians you want at your wedding. Will you have a pianist, string quartet, solo violin, deejay? This matters. “Free Bird” doesn’t sound quite the same on a bagpipe…sorry.

2. Look at the style of your wedding. I recently did a vintage wedding where we incorporated some violin solos for “somewhere over the rainbow” and “I love you truly”. This was simple, sweet, and matched the theme nicely.

3. Do you have a special song that you want to incorporate? This may be a good place to put it. Don’t forget to mention it on your programs. Guests love to know the meaning behind songs, decor, etc. It helps them to feel more connected and they will leave your wedding feeling like they learned more about you.

4. Choose a fairly long song. You want to give your guests plenty of time to leave the ceremony. You can also choose a medley of songs. I just prefer one long song.

5. Choose a fun song. Use good taste here, but I love to hear a happy, peppy song–something that let’s your guests know the party is getting started. One of my favorite memories from my own wedding was the recessional. My husband is a pilot and we chose the Top Gun anthem for our recessional. It was a fun and subtle touch of our personality, while keeping it classy at the same time. Guests loved it.

6. Unless you have a deejay playing the “real version” of a song, stick to instrumentals without the words. All rules are able to be broken so this is not inflexible, but I strongly suggest using this as a rule of thumb.

7. I can’t believe I have to say this, but after seeing a viral video of poor choices in wedding songs I guess I should…don’t choose a song with cuss words. Seriously…there are usually children present plus it’s just not classy.

Below are some suggested songs spanning a range of styles and preferences.

1. Home by Phillip Phillips
2. Gone with the wind theme
3. Somewhere over the rainbow
4. Dancing in the Minefields by Andrew Peterson
5. Daisy Electric Violin by Lindsey Sterling
6. Lindsey sterling actually has wonderful video game theme songs for violin. Super tasteful way for you video gamers to share your love for mario.
7. 1,2,3,4 by the Plain White Ts
8. Butterfly Waltz by Brian Crain (also a beautiful processional)
9. Techno Canon in D. Such a fun twist on tradition.
10.Then by Brad Paisley

The Importance of Wedding Photography


Photo can be foud here.

Our ability to capture memories on film is a relatively recent phenomenon of wedding history.  Artists used to be commisioned to preserve some memories of a wealthy matrimony, but for the most part, weddings just happened.  Then they were over and you did your best to try to remember that day.  If the wedding days pre-1900 were nearly as hectic as ours today, you may have been left with the feeling that you experienced your day on “fast forward” and then it was gone.

The next big leap in preserving memories was video.  Now you can remember the sounds and songs of that day and watch yourself cry at the alter over and over again.

Now there is pinterest.  Never before have couples had the ability to control every detail of their wedding.  With each step comes a blessing and an opportunity to be overwhelmed.  On pinterest, you can choose specific shots you want to try to get from a photographer.  You can see what’s trendy and look for things that aren’t.  You have the ability to design the entire feel of your wedding on a phone.

So the bottom line is that you are entrusting all of your emotions to someone or a group of media professionals who will be in charge of capturing this “once in a lifetime” event.  They have one day.  One shot at this.  You will worry “Will I look the way I want to look?”, “Will they deliver on their promises?”  “Will they get every shot I asked for?”

You want someone you can trust with your memories.  You want someone who will deliver unique moments that capture the new family you have created, while infusing classic elements and style into every picture.

Photography is at the top of my list when it comes to expenses. If you can only afford to get married at the courthouse with your Publix Bouquet and your old prom dress…get a good photographer and you’ll love your wedding forever. Over time you forget about all the things you couldn’t have–but make sure you are able to remember what you DO have…LOVE.

Skimp vs. Splurge: Those pesky decisions

Everyone who plans a wedding has a budget…whether or not they realize it.  There’s always a number I can hit where they say “Well, we don’t have THAT much to spend.”  The question is really “How big is your budget for this wedding?”  For many of my brides, the budget number may feel painfully small, but I’ve encouraged them to think on two things:

1.  At the end of the day, this big party is really about joining two lives together.  If all you had money for was the marriage license, you could still choose to be happy:)

2.  There are some tricks to make your budget work a little harder for you.  With a little elbow grease and skimping here and there to splurge on the important stuff, you can still have the wedding of your dreams.  So here, I have decided to share a few tips.  Obviously, every bride is different and every bride gets her heart set on different things.  Keep that in mind.

What to Splurge on:

  1. Photography/ Videography: You’re trusting your memories to be preserved by someone for the rest of your life so hire a good photographer and if you can get a videographer as well—not just a family friend who has a nice camera. 
  2. Bridal Gown:  I suggest going to a bridal shop and trying on lots of dresses.  When you find one you like, don’t get sucked into buying it right away.  Get the designer and style number off the tag and write it down.  Check out eBay and recycledbrides.com and see if it happens to be available in your size. I recommend against having a Chinese shop online “make” an identical dress.  They normally look completely different.  Pre-owned dresses are only used once (you hope;) and most brides nowadays get them cleaned right away so there’s very little risk.  HOWEVER, make sure you LOVE your dress even if you do have to buy it brand new and splurge on it.  The Bride is the focal point of almost ALL of your photos.  If you are happy and feel good in your dress, you will always love your pictures and in time you will forget all the things you could NOT afford.
  3. Food:  You do not have to plan a steak dinner for all your guests, but if you are inviting your closest friends and families to celebrate your union, you should feed them–And they should have tables and chairs to sit at.  Throughout ALL of human history, sharing a meal is the most common symbol of a bond of friendship.  Don’t skimp on this step…even if it means inviting fewer people.  Take care of the ones you do invite.  Choose cheap food (Jim n Nicks is a GREAT wedding caterer) and make sure you have enough.  Brunch is cheaper than dinner so keep that in mind.
  4. The Venue:  Be careful here—you don’t have to get married in a castle to feel like a princess so the trick is to know WHEN to splurge on a venue.  If your venue offers chairs, tables, a reception space, and has beautiful flowers surrounding it which cuts down on your decorating costs, then it might be worth it.  Always compare what you get with what you don’t get when comparing prices.  Most venues are cheaper on weeknights than weekends so if you can swing a Thursday night instead of Saturday–go for it!
  5. Nails: Get a mani/pedi.  No matter what happens on your big day you’ll feel better about the photos, wedding, and first night if your nails look good!
  6. Music:  Good music and dancing isn’t a must, but it is an easy way to upscale your wedding a little.  Check out music students at colleges—sometimes they are more than willing to get their name out there and get experience and you can pay them less.  Sometimes a single pianist or violinist is all you need to change the mood of your ceremony and is very inexpensive.


 What to SKIMP on:

  1. Don’t have two cakes if you’re truly trying to save money.  A groom’s cake is unnecessary.  In most cases, the Groom doesn’t care and it’s cheaper for you to just have one large cake that feeds all of your guests.  OR:  Go with cupcakes!
  2. Don’t get attached to your flower selection.  Consult a florist and have her use cost-effective in season flowers or fruit to make your arrangements.  Choose non-floral centerpieces that you can make yourself.  Think of ways to double-purpose your decorations…it might be worth it to have a giant floral centerpiece if you can use it in the wedding AND reception or use the fruit centerpieces as favors as well.  Get creative!
  3. Don’t rent a limo or some fancy car. Sure it can make for a cute picture, but that moment passes so quickly.  Put that money into something else instead.
  4. Invitations:  Print them yourself or get them as cheap as possible.  Most people are just going to throw them away.  Try to order from a big company online (like vistaprint or zazzle)since they are likely to be cheaper than print shops in town.  Having people RSVP will save you money in the long run because you will only rent and have enough food for that amount of people.  Make sure to specify if children are invited.  To save the cost of the RSVP card, direct guests to weddingwire.com where they can RSVP online after you create your own wedding website.
  5. Don’t do save the dates:  If you send your invitations out at least 2 months ahead of time,  that is usually plenty of time for people to plan to attend.  You will need to communicate sooner to anyone coming in from out of town.
  6. Don’t buy an expensive veil:  I’m appalled at what bridal shops will charge for a piece of tulle!  Unless you have your heart set on a quality silk veil that you plan to keep in your family for generations, get a cheap simple veil and pair it with a pretty headpiece, tiara, or headband.  They all look the same in pictures.
  7.  Examples of cheap homemade favors:
  • Fruit centerpieces that have “worked double” as something you give away after they have graced the tables. (wrap with twine and tag that says “take me home”.
  • A bag of fresh cherries
  • Handwritten recipe cards with favorite recipes from both families.
  • Seed packets dressed up nicely with twine or ribbon 
  • Make a sign that says that instead of wedding favors you have chosen to donate $1 per guest  to a charitable organization instead.
  • Rosemary Sea Salt—looks beautiful in a small glass jar and rosemary is the herb of love &remembrance.
  • Don’t worry if it can’t be personalized.  Sometimes personalization can be more expensive and at the end of the day, your guests would probably rather not carry around that key chain that has your adorable faces on it.

What are some great wedding favors you have received as a guest?  I’m always looking for new ideas!

Rubiks and I


Thank you, Spindle Photography for the use of this photo.

This month, I got to be a part of a really neat event in Birmingham–The 2013 P.E.W.S. Decorating competition hosted by Rebecca Hassee of P.E.W.S.

Vendors from the area came together for avdistinctly different kind of bridal show–one based on competition and showing brides what we can do.  This event was so FUN!  Months ago, I signed up for the competition.  I had to choose 2 themes that I would be interested in doing and include that info in my application.  I really hadn’t even thought about it so I stared at the screen for a few minutes.  Most of my weddings of late have been rustic/vintage/Old South–pretty much what every other planner is working with right now.  It was like 10 p.m. ok?  I put “Rubiks cube”–before I even did the research.

This photo ALMOST captures the prisms in action. It was way cooler in person!

I wanted to be different!  I know…”different” and borderline “crazy” are often hard to distinguish.  But, I really craved to create a pew that would stand out…something that hasn’t been done before and something you WON’T find on Pinterest (well, actually, now you will because I’m pinning my photos of course).  I also had to plan something that wasn’t going to empty my bank account!  So Rubiks and I became friends and I stepped up to the challenge.


Sand Art…felt like a kid doing this:)

Sand art was a given as soon as I started thinking about a multi-colored pattern.  I spray painted branches metallic silver and white, did my sand art on location, and filled the top with mirror pieces.  Then I hung prisms of different shapes and rubiks cubes with fish string.  I borrowed 2 amazing barstools from a friend and…voila!  Rubiks cube pew markers.


This photo taken by Spindle Photography

Of course, in my own mind I had to come up with an entire wedding surrounding this theme so I also created a mock wedding program that was rainbow themed and included songs like “Somewhere over the Rainbow” and “Colour My World.”


Close up of Rubiks Cube

I did not win the competition, but that wasn’t even really my goal.  I was very pleased with how my pew turned out and it was fun to watch from a distance the other vendors and brides say “Wow…I’ve never seen that before!  How cool!”  I really enjoyed standing out a little and proving to myself that while I do LOVE vintage/rustic styles, I’m capable of thinking “outside the cube”:)  I loved this theme!