Real Wedding: Amy & Parker

Amy and Parker’s wedding was truly magical! Amy and I clicked right away when we first met. Her warm, animated and sparkling personality, combined with her dream of being a princess in her fairytale wedding, began the inspiration for this design.

Amy’s parents’ property in Custer on the Canadian border was gorgeous and the perfect location for this romantic wedding. With crystals hanging from trees and bridesmaids dressed as Disney characters as they floated down the aisle to their character’s theme song, you couldn’t help but feel like you were being transported to an imaginary place filled with fun and love.

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Vendor Tipping: Clearing Up the Gratuity Grey Area

There seems to be some confusion about gratuity when it comes to vendors. Who should you tip and when? First, let’s take a look at the definition of gratuity.


  1. a gift of money, over and above payment due for service.
  2. something given without claim or demand.

Please keep in mind that tipping is something you do to show appreciation for a job well done. Let’s take a look at the standard gratuities for wedding vendors.

I like to work very closely throughout the planning process with the parents of the bride, or the couple themselves if they are the financial support. About two weeks before the wedding, I’ll talk to them about vendor tipping. At that point, if they are comfortable with it, we put the tips in envelopes and mark them for each vendor. Sometimes people like to wait until the rehearsal to do this.

Wedding Hair Stylist and Makeup Artist
You wouldn’t have your hair cut and colored and not tip your stylist would you? Your wedding day is no different. 15-20 percent is the standard tip.

Wedding Delivery and Set-up Staff
The workers delivering your fragile wedding cake, flowers and any other gear needed for your big day should be tipped. $10 per person is standard. I keep cash in my pocket on the wedding day and hand it out to anyone who is helping to make this important event perfect.

Ceremony Officiant
If you’ve hired a nondenominational officiant, no tip is required, but I think it’s nice to give something. In my opinion, a tip doesn’t need to be in the form of cash. How about thanking your officiant in person and after the ceremony sending a beautiful thank-you note? If you know your officiant personally, I think choosing a gift that he or she would like is a great way to express your gratitude. If you’re more comfortable giving cash, then $50 – $100 is the standard.

You should make a donation to a church or synagogue if your officiant is associated with one. In this case, the standard gratuity is $500 or more.

Wedding Ceremony Musicians
A tip for musicians is not required, but if they worked on something original for your wedding, I would definitely give something. $15-$20 is customary and it feels good to support your local musicians.

Wedding Photographer/Videographer
A tip is not expected unless the photographer doesn’t own the studio. In that case, $50-$200 would be appropriate.

Wedding Reception Staff
This type of staff includes the on-site coordinator, maitre d’, and banquet manager and is usually already laid out in a contract. Normally, the gratuity would be built in at around 2%. If gratuity is not built-in, tip as you normally would when going out to dinner (15-20%).

Wedding Reception Attendants
This includes bartenders, wait staff, parking, bathroom and coat room attendants. Again, this would normally be in your contract. The standard is $20-$25 for each wait staff and $1 per guest for coat room and parking.

Wedding Reception Band or DJ
Again, tipping the musicians is optional, but certainly appreciated. As always, gratuity depends on quality. If your DJ decides to follow his own playlist instead of yours, odds are he’s not getting a tip.

Wedding Transportation
Normally gratuity is included in the contract, but don’t forget to check. If not, the standard is 15-20%.

Please keep in mind that the amounts listed here are just a guideline to give you an idea about industry standards. I think a hand-written thank-you note goes a long way in showing your sincere appreciation for a job well done, whether you decide to tip or not. And if you can, take a minute to personally thank each vendor throughout your wedding and reception.

Wedding photography by Imagine Fotographie.

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Elena and Jim: Easter Wedding

I thought this would be the perfect week to share Elena and Jim’s wedding. They were married a year ago on Easter. When I asked Elena why they chose to marry on Easter, she explained that 2011 was a rare convergence of Orthodox and Catholic faith. This is significant as the Gregorian calendar, used to honor Orthodox tradition and religious significance, came into rare alignment. Christmas, as the date is fixed instead of the numbered Sunday, as is the case with Easter, can never be on the same day for the two religions. Orthodox Christmas always falls on 7th of January and Western Christmas is on the 25th of December.

We had an Easter egg hunt in the park prior to the ceremony at Columbia Tower and the adults loved it just as much as the kids. And the fun didn’t end there! We also had a magician mingling with guests during the cocktail hour at the reception.

Elena’s parents presented traditional karavay bread to the bride and groom prior to the ceremony. Doesn’t it look delicious?

Every detail of this wedding at Columbia Tower was stunning, from the emerald green and pink color combination to Elena’s haute couture dress, designed by Sergei Ermakov especially for her.

I’d like to thank all of the vendors who made this beautiful wedding happen:

Erin Skipley, Hair and Make up
Pastor John Green
Jim Garner, J. Garner Photography
Aria Style, flowers and linens
Dale Dunning, Wall Street Clothiers
Bonnie Lyons, New Renaissance Cakes
Cookies and Hot Chocolate in the park, Ravishing Radish Catering
Photo Booth at the Reception, 3.2.1. Photo
Grand Event Rentals
Fairmont Hotel Seattle, all guest sleeping rooms
Columbia Tower, Ceremony and Reception
Parsons Garden, Seattle for the Egg Hunt
Pacific NW Limo Service for all our transportation

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Aisle Runner Trends

Aisle runners are really popular this year. My trusted vendor is Original Runners in New York. Let’s take a look at what they have to offer.

Hand Crystaled Aisle Runners

Hand Crystaled Aisle Runners

These beautiful runners are not only custom designed, but each Swarovski crystal is placed by hand! Talk about getting the royal treatment for your wedding!

3D Petals Aisle Runners

How about a 3D Petals aisle runner? Original Runners builds these by hand too and will match your wedding colors.

Monogrammed Aisle Runners

Of course, there’s the monogrammed aisle runner. You can go with a modern look, like the hot pink and black design, or traditional, like this beautiful brown damask monogram.

Seasonal Aisle Runners

If you’re planning an autumn or winter wedding, you might want to go with a seasonal design.

Religious or Symbolic Aisle Runners

You can also create a custom religious or symbolic aisle runner.

Quote or Sayings Aisle Runners

Is there a certain quote that you and your fiancee love? Maybe it’s a bible verse, your favorite poem or song? Have a custom aisle runner made and have a keepsake that you’ll cherish forever.

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Bridal Bouquets – Rules Don’t Apply

The bridal bouquet is the ultimate wedding day accessory…and it must fit! Are you shabby sheek? Have a passion for creating beauty with paper? Want a DIY project? Or are you just looking to be creative with your wedding. These days there are NO RULES in weddings…and there are LOTS of ways to get creative and make a lasting impression your guests won’t forget. There are countless alternative bouquet ideas out there, here are just a few that left that lasting impression on me!

Have you always wanted a spring flower for your summer wedding bouquet? Anything is possible…These flowers are pretty to look at and impossible to kill…they’re made from paper! Robot in Bloom offers wedding packages starting as low at $250…Now that’s a deal!

Are you thinking of ways to use grandmothers old vintage brooches? Or have you been collecting them yourself over the years? What a creative idea to make a bouquet out of brooches. If your starting from scratch Anthropology carries hundreds of different style brooches and you could even DIY. The above bouquet is a style by Amanda Heer of Fantasy Floral Design, the original vintage brooch creator.

These are made from Wood! Could you ever tell?! Check out or to see more unique wood arrangements.

Moved from the ocean to the city and trying to incorporate your hometown love into your wedding?! GO FOR IT…Make your bouquet out of sea shells…or wheat if you grew up on a farm…the idea again is… THERE ARE NO RULES!

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Why Hire a Wedding Planner?

One of the most valuable things that a bride (and her groom and immediate family) has to anchor her through the entire wedding process is her sense of well being. A wedding planner’s main focus is to maintain that great sense of well being from the first meeting until the happy couple is off to HoneymoonLand!

She maintains your budget while maintaining your sanity.
An immediate way that a wedding planner can aid in supporting your financial well being is by utilizing their extensive knowledge of vendors, processes, locations, and people. Because the planner can go directly to sources (and have multiple options to choose from), she/he can get things moving faster, more efficiently, and avoid costly mistakes. In addition, your time is used more effectively, freeing you up to attend to life beyond wedding.

She artfully conducts the 10-ring circus with her great expertise.
Just as you would hire a general contractor to build your house, or hire a lawyer to defend yourself in court; by hiring a wedding expert, you get a day where you don’t have to worry about anything but being in the moment of one the most memorable days of your life. Today’s weddings are similar in scale and complexity as some movie productions. The caterer’s not able to find the right kind of electrical outlet? Squabbling family members? You need a good director so that you and your spouse not only walk down the aisle with each other, but with the Academy Award for Best Wedding!

She attends to things that you would never have thought of (she’s almost like magic).
From negotiating all vendor contracts to establishing the couple’s vision for the wedding, much of what a wedding planner does is in the details. Her ability to anticipate what is coming next, or to create many, little solutions over time; provide a buffer to the potential snowball effect of approaching deadlines and over-stressed people. Consider her your virtual fairy godmother!

She is the person you want on your team.
She may be perfectly warm, friendly and well-mannered, but when it comes down to getting what is needed for your wedding day, she is here to be your virtual border collie! Since everyone else is busy, she makes sure that everyone (and every thing) is in place, and that everyone has all the information that they need. If any barking is required, she will do it with persistence AND style!

She will be your partner in the moment.

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Writing Your Wedding Vows

Advice from Annemarie Juhlian on writing your wedding vows. When it comes time to write your wedding vows, this can be a very daunting task. I hope Annemarie’s advice will put you at ease and comfort knowing that there are no rules these days. Wedding couples are really taking the time to create and personalize their vows, have fun! Truly make it your day to celebrate each other!

Annemarie Juhlian, Wedding Celebrant & Officiant

In this work that I do, I get lots of questions and lots of “angst” from engaged couples about their wedding vows – whether the ceremony is traditional, contemporary or “out there.” I thought my perspective below on wedding vows might be helpful to the brides/grooms – the keyword “wedding vows” is also one of the most searched keywords within the “wedding world.”

Wedding Vows – a little personal perspective.

Personal wedding vows – written together by a couple together before a wedding ceremony or saved as a surprise for the wedding ceremony – are often the heart and soul of a wedding ceremony. Wedding vows are so much more than “I promise this until the end of time,” and “I will always do this and never do that.” Vows between a loving couple are more about their love, respect and appreciation for each other, what they promise to bring to their marriage, what they can expect from each other and perhaps something that they want to share about their Sweetheart publicly with their family and friends. In some ways, vows can be a mini-love letter.

Wedding vows are a very personal statement between two people. Vows are also a public statement of love, commitment and respect. It’s a gentle and delicate dance to craft a set of vows – similar or different – that truly celebrate a couple’s relationship and at the same time are publicly respectful and inclusive so family and friends feel they have a tiny peak into their loving relationship.

So my best advice, having witnessed hundreds of vows exchanged?

1) Go to lunch. Discuss your vows and get on the same page. Talk to your partner about what’s possible and what’s comfortable for your wedding day.
2) Take your time. Don’t wait until the 11th hour to write your vows. Start weeks if not a month or two before.
3) This is not about performance. This isn’t about doing it “right.” It’s about doing what’s right for you.
4) Create an outline/find your voice and craft your message. Go to the internet for inspiration. Read your vows aloud and time them.
5) Save the very intimate words. Surprise your new husband/wife with ‘private vows” on your wedding night or the next day.
6) And most of all, elegant humor is good, good and good!

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SK’s Top Ten List of Ways to Maximize Your Time at the 2010 Seattle Wedding Show

Your time is precious. And yet you want all the elements of your wedding to be spectacular. Check out these quick tips that will help you get all you need from the Show.

1. Get plenty of sleep the night before the Show.

2. Buy your tickets in advance. You can purchase them right here on the Seattle Wedding Show site under the tickets tab. While it’s great fun to chat with your girlfriends or fiancé in line, wouldn’t you rather spend your time looking at beautiful cakes, dresses or stemware?

3. Comfortable shoes and a bottle of water will be your next best friend at the Show—don’t leave home without them. After sampling a few different cake options, the water will provide not only a quick palette cleanse, but the energy to check out the next thing on your list.

4. Plan to attend the Show both days: Saturday and Sunday. The Show has such a great array of specialists and unique items to choose from that it is well worth returning on Sunday. By going back the second day, you can revisit specific wedding specialists in case you came up with additional questions overnight. Or maybe you need to bring a friend who is great at brainstorming through hard-to-reach decisions. Whatever the case may be, plan on attending both days; you will be glad that you did!

5. Arrive early.

6. Bring your business cards or print out sticker labels with your name, wedding date and contact information so you can give them to prospective wedding specialists or raffles to win special prizes. Save your hands from getting tired of writing your info at every booth by bringing these timely tools.

7. Bring your beloved, or bring someone who has a clear understanding of your wedding plans. It is easy to lose focus when there are so many great things going on around you. Be prepared to make decisions about hiring a specific specialist at the show or soon after. Many of the specialists will get reserved at the show or within a few weeks. It would be a shame to miss out on the specialist that you really want. Now is the time to put your plans in motion!

8. If you remember any of these tips, remember this one for a truly successful wedding show experience! Meet with your wedding planner or whoever is working with you to plan your wedding to come up with a “Game Plan.” Questions that will help you arrive at a Game Plan are: How far along are you with your plans? Are you starting from scratch? Are your needs more specific, such as looking for the perfect DJ, baker or florist? No matter what stage you are in, do your research by checking out the wedding specialists before coming to the Show. Establish an A-list of must-see vendors and any questions you might have for them. Once you’ve narrowed the field of specialists, find out where their booth is located. By having a Game Plan, you avoid getting lost in all the excitement and hubbub.

9. Pick up a Wedding Show guide at any of the participating wedding specialist locations. The guide is key to maximizing your time at the Show. It is filled with great information on Seattle’s Top Wedding Specialists. Team up Tip #8 with this one, and you will be in great shape for hitting all the places you’re interested in. Make copies of the floor plan located on page 57. Then use a highlighter to mark the specialists from the A-list you made in your Game Plan. Now you not only have a mental picture of what’s important to you, but you also have a visual guide to get you just where you want to be.
10. It goes without saying that THE most important tip for the Seattle Wedding Show is to have FUN! Planning for your wedding is such an incredible adventure. You learn so much about each other’s likes, dislikes, fashion, etiquette and more. You are setting the foundation for your life together as husband and wife. Always remember, the hard part is done, you have found each other!

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