Wedding Dress Trends 2014

Every year wedding dresses get tweaked and are perfected from the previous year.  You may think they all look the same, but until you begin your wedding gown search you don’t realize the detail each wedding dress possesses and it’s own unique beauty.  There is a wedding gown for everyone out there, even the gowns that you would never imagine yourself in can look absolutely breathtaking.

What trends are happening for wedding gowns in 2014?  If you are in the market for a wedding gown, you will be pleased with what designers have to offer.  Designers this year offer an elegant yet effortless look for brides to be.  You will find several gowns that have open backs, which is perfect for Texas weather.  Gowns with an open back are sexy without giving away too much, it leaves room for the imagination. Let the images speak for themselves.

Photo Credit:
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Photo Credit: Blush
Photo Credit: Blush
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The simple elegance continues into the 2014 fall trends.  We also continue to see short wedding dresses that follow the same pattern as the long wedding gowns.  While looking for your perfect gown you will see several cap sleeves on wedding dresses.  You will also see more dresses with some sort of a strap or sleeve instead of strapless.

Photo Credit:  Marchesa
Photo Credit: Marchesa
Photo Credit:  Carolina Herrera
Photo Credit: Carolina Herrera

Dresses this year have decorative details.  The eye-catching detail bring “all eyes on the bride” to a whole new level.  You might be thinking bling, but it isn’t all bling.  The details range from pearls to lace appliqué and even some bits of sparkle.

Phot Credit: Kenneth Pool
Phot0 Credit: Kenneth Pool

These simple trends make for gorgeous wedding gowns.


*Betsy Villanueva




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Beauty Tips for The Bride

Phot credit:
Phot credit:

You are gearing up for your wedding events, such as the engagement party, a bachelorette party, etc.  It is time to look your best, as the center of attention to these events, so why not use the latest beauty trends to help you glow.

Do you want a dramatic look or simple elegance?  Either look needs some of the same basic items.  Find a foundation that matches your skin tone.  Apply a small amount to your jawline to make sure the color of foundation matches your face and your neck.  Primer is also necessary to use before you apply your foundation and your eye makeup.  It will make your makeup last longer and keep your look lasting throughout your wedding event.  Use any primer, CC cream or BB cream, whichever best fits your skin.

If you want a wedding glow get a spray tan before your wedding.  If it is your first time spray tanning, give it a try about three weeks before your event so that your color can be matched perfectly and to make sure the spray tan is exactly as you would like it.  One you decide to use a spray tan for your event then schedule your final spray tan three days before your event.  If you don’t plan on getting a full body tan you can use some bronzer to get a glow on your face.  Don’t use too much, a small amount of bronzer goes a long way.

Photo Credit: Simply Golden Airbrush Tanning (Austin, TX)
Photo Credit: Simply Golden Airbrush Tanning (Austin, TX)

Let’s face it, one of your worst nightmares is to have pimples the day of any big event especially events that involve numerous pictures being taken.  If you happen to have any pimples on your face a quick fix to dry it out is to apply toothpaste directly on the pimple.

If you are going for a natural look, there is not much to do.  Apply your primer to your face and eyes then apply your eyeshadows.  It is best to do your eyeshadows first because it falls on your face and it is easier to clean up.  Use eyeshadows and eye liners that are neutral to keep the natural look.  Then comes my favorite part; apply waterproof mascara to your eyelashes, both top and bottom, it really brings out your eyes.  Then add foundation to your face and add concealer under both eyes.  Bring in your bronzer and add it to your forehead, nose, chin, neck and a little under your cheekbone to bring structure to your cheeks.  Pick a blush that isn’t too pink and apply it to your cheeks.  You are basically done with all of your makeup, but don’t forget those lips.  No face is complete without lipstick or lipgloss.  A natural lip color continues to embrace the natural look you are going for, but it can be fun to add a bit of pop to a natural look and the lips are where it should be done.  A red or a brighter pink can actually brighten up your look while still keeping it natural.

If you are looking to have a more dramatic look, use eyeshadows that are bold and contour the face.  Below are a couple of ways to apply your eyeshadow and to contour the face.  Remember to do your eyeshadow first and then do your contouring after you apply your foundation.

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Photo credit:
Photo credit:
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These are some simple, but effective beauty tips to keep in mind when any of your wedding events come up.  You are the main attraction and as so you should look your best for your showers, parties, and of course, your wedding day.  You might think that you can’t recreate these looks, but if you practice them they kinks will work themselves out.  If you are looking to buy new beauty products always consult with a specialist at the counter.  They can help you pick the colors that fit you best and they can even show you tricks to create the look you are gong for.


*Betsy Villanueva



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Bridal Shower Games

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We talked about bachelorette party games, now let’s discuss bridal shower games.  There are plenty of games for the bride to be’s shower.  Most of the games are geared towards the guests, but the bride gets to enjoy watching her closest friends and family compete.  Usually, guests that win the game get a prize.

Famous Couples game is a list of famous people and next to it is a blank where you fill in who their significant other is.  The person to have the most correct answers wins the game.  A more interactive game is based on creating a dress made out of toilet paper that you think resembles the dress the bride picked for her wedding.  Usually there are teams of two, one person stands there as a model and the rest of the team wraps toilet paper around the model to create a dress before time runs out.  The bride then picks a winner based on the dress that most closely resembles her wedding gown.

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A game played at my own bridal shower that I enjoyed was about me answering questions.  The groom receives a list of questions he has to answer and at the shower a host calls out the same questions that the groom was asked and the bride has to answer as she thinks he answered the questions.  The girls enjoyed watching this game because my groom wanted to make it more personal and he actually made a video for me instead of having a host read everything off to me.  It was emotional to watch, but very sweet and guests enjoy the game as well.

He Said She Said is a game that closely resembles the previous game, but this is for guests to play.  A list is created of things that are said by the groom and bride and the guests have to circle the bride or groom based on who they think said the sentence.  Those that are around you and your groom the most have a slight advantage in this game.  Another matching game is How Sweet It Is.  You have probably heard of this game being played at both bridal showers and baby showers.  The host gives out a sheet of paper with the name of a candy bar on one side of the column and a phrase on the second column.  The guests then match up the phrase that best fits the name of the candy bar and the person with the most correct answers wins.

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The next game is a guessing game and those that know you best will thrive.  What’s in the bride’s purse?  You have probably seen something similar to this in Us Weekly as “What’s In My Bag”, which is done by celebrities.  In this game a list is created of several items with categories that range from 1-25 points each.  Guests will check off the items they think is in the bride’s purse.  When everyone is done the items in the purse are emptied out one by one then the guests tally up their total correct answers and the person with the highest score wins.

How Well Do You Know The Bride?  This is a popular game that gives everyone a chance to show the bride and everyone else how well they know the future Mrs.  This is made up of list of questions with a blank line to leave your response.  The questions can vary from “what is the bride’s favorite color?” to more personal questions, like “what is her fondest memory of the groom?”.

This last one is not a game; it is an activity.  Leave a piece of advice for the bride.  This is the guest’s time to impart some wisdom on the bride.   The bride can take home the stack of advice cards and read them in her private time or they can be read one by one , by a friend, at the shower in-between each gift that is opened at the shower.  This is something the bride will appreciate and she will also be able to keep to look back on.

These games are fun and interactive.  It can also help break the ice with a large group of girls that may not know one another.  If you are planning a bridal shower these games would be a hit, so keep them in mind.  If you are a bride and would like to play any of these games, drop some subtle hints to get the ball rolling.


*Betsy Villanueva

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Wedding Traditions Around the Globe, Part 2



weddingKimonoPhoto Credit: Wedding Resource

The traditional wedding ceremony is usually very private and formal, taking place at a shrine with only close family present. Of course, a lot of couples opt for the more non traditional ceremony with a lot more people; some still have a ceremony in front of a shrine, but inside the hotel where the reception and festivities are. A Shinto priest performs the ceremony, the couple is purified and drinks sake before reading words of commitment. The ‘san-san-kudo’ sake ceremony is part of the wedding vows and symbolizes the union of two people and two families. The wedding ceremony ends with symbolic offerings to kami (Shinto gods), typically small tree twigs called ‘sakaki.’ Guests are expected to give money at the reception in small, beautifully decorated packets to help pay for the cost. Throughout the reception, the bride and even sometimes the groom will change clothes several times to symbolize their preparedness to return to everyday life.


zags2Photo Credit: Russian World Forums

A couple will apply at the wedding registry office, ZAGS, several months in advance. They will then think about their decision and go back for their official marriage certificate on their wedding day. Traditionally, the wedding rings are provided by the groom and are worn on the right hand. Engagement rings are a recent addition to Russian weddings that were introduced with Western customs. On the wedding day, the bride’s parents pretend to steal her away and ask the groom for a ransom. He will pay some symbolic monetary value or jewelry, get back his bride, and then they head to ZAGS for their official registration ceremony. After that, they go to a beautiful location for pictures followed by greeting their guests and celebrating together. And of course, there must be plenty of liquor and food, because a traditional Russian wedding lasts at least two days!


wedding dresses 2016 nz online shopPhoto Credit: Irish Central

“Marry in May and rue the day,” or “Marry in April if you can, joy for maiden and for man!” Wedding dresses for the traditional Irish bride were not white, but blue (still symbolizing purity); although nowadays the blue dress is more rare to see. Brides used to carry horseshoes to bring good luck to the ceremony and the rest of the marriage. Since those are heavy and a little inconvenient, they now place items to represent a horseshoe in their hair, bouquet, embellished on their dress, etc. During the ceremony, the bride and groom literally tie the knot! Rope, cord or ribbon is tied around the couple’s clasped hands in bright colors (or those matching the wedding theme). Another superstitious Irish tradition is to give guests small bells at the ceremony to help ward off evil spirits. If you don’t want to risk all of your guests ringing bells at the same time and annoying you more than warding off spirits, you can wear a bracelet, anklet or small personal charm with bells.

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How To: Keep Cool During Summer Weddings

It is that time of the year again! Summer is upon us and we all know what summers in Texas are like, HOT.  You will be wearing a big dress and your groom will be in a tux, which means the chances of cooling down will be slim to none for you two.  Luckily, you can still find ways to keep yourself and your guests as cool and comfortable as possible in the Texas heat.

Pick a time of day that is least hot for the ceremony.  You might want to consider having the ceremony and reception indoors, but that puts a damper on your dream of having an outdoor wedding. What do you do?  Split the time of your wedding indoors and outdoors by having the ceremony outdoors and the reception indoors or vice versa.  If this still doesn’t meet your wedding requirements have your wedding ceremony and reception under some shade.  Pick an area that has shade for you and your groom to have a ceremony under.  A few large trees make for a great background for pictures during the ceremony and will help keep the sun off of you two.

Offer your guests some cute and fun ways to keep cool throughout your wedding.  All eyes on you is a bit difficult when the sun is beaming into your guests eyes, so lay out sunglasses to keep the sun out of your guests eyes during the ceremony.  Put out a bucket of cold water bottles for your guests to pick up as they arrive to your ceremony site.  This keeps them refreshed as they wait for you to walk down the aisle.  Most people receive a program before the ceremony, so why not give them  a program they can use throughout your wedding day by making your program into a fan.




If you choose not to make your program into a fan, you might want to consider giving your guests a fan anyways.  You can have the fans personalized to fit your theme.  Hats and umbrellas also serve as a good form of shade for your guests during the ceremony.

If you are having cocktail hour pass out some cold treats to your guests, such as shrimp cocktail, popsicles, sherbet, ceviche, fruit, etc..  Your guests will appreciate the cold treats during the heat.  Don’t forget some delicious, fruity, cold beverages to go along with your cocktail hour hors d’oeuvres.  Even the simplest treats go a long way.



At the end of the night you can have a cute stand or food truck that serves snow cones, ice cream, or other cold and sweet treats.  Instead of a candy bar you could even have a frozen yogurt bar, an ice cream bar, or even a sundae bar.  An ice cream cake is also a great alternative to a wedding cake.

If your venue does not have air-conditioning, fans, or if the whole wedding is outside; try to set up some fans around the reception area to help cool down your guests as the day goes on.  Summer is the time to incorporate these cute ideas into your wedding. Have fun with it and make it original.  Making your guests feel comfortable in the heat is important and these ideas will help you achieve it.



*Betsy Villanueva





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Wedding Traditions Around the Globe, Part 1


There are a lot of old and new wedding customs in America and even within each family. But how many of our traditions came from other countries? Whether you want to get in touch with your roots, or just embrace part of another culture, you’re sure to have fun with these customs from around the globe!


italian weddingPhoto Credit:

The night before the wedding, an Italian bride stays at her parent’s house and wears green for good luck. She will not wear any gold on her wedding day aside from her ring as that is bad luck. In addition to something borrowed, something new and something blue, the bride will also wear something she received as a gift. In some regions of Italy, the bride and groom cut a log together with a double-handed saw as a show of how they will work together in their marriage. During the reception, guests will often bang their glasses with spoons to encourage the bride and groom to kiss. At the end, the bride and groom say thank you to their guests with ‘bomboniere,’ which is a present with confetti (sugared almonds) and printed ribbons. This is a symbol of family life; the number of confetti should be an odd number, 5 or 7 for good luck. A lot of times, the wedding party and closest guests will parade down the street from the church after the wedding.


MexicoPhoto Credit: Snippet & Ink

Before leaving for the ceremony, the bride’s mother traditionally will offer a prayer with the bride; sometimes both parents participate. Mariachis are responsible for most of the music at the wedding and reception, but sometimes an organ is still used for the bride’s walk down the aisle. The bridegroom presents 13 gold coins to the bride as a symbol of his unquestionable trust and confidence (placing all of his goods in her care). To symbolize unity during the ceremony, a designated person will place a figure-eight loop of rosary beads around the bride and groom to be worn throughout the service. For the first dance, guests surround the bride and groom in a heart shaped crowd.


ndidigunnar_290Photo Credit: Kathryn Croskey

Listen up, ladies! In Germany, BOTH the men and the women wear engagement rings on their left hand (why didn’t that tradition cross over here??) After the wedding they wear the wedding ring on their right hand. The night before the wedding, the bride and groom smash china plates at a party to scare off evil spirits. They then clean everything up together to show how well they work together. Oftentimes the women will replace a veil with a flowery headband and ribbons, instead. They may wear a tiara and if they do choose to wear a veil, it never covers their face. The bride and groom are married first in the registry office and then enter the church and walk down the aisle together. It isn’t typical for there to be bridesmaids, groomsmen or a flower girl. Usually the bride and groom only need a witness at the registry office, and then their family and friends at the wedding ceremony.


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Bridal Portraits

It’s your time to shine!  Bridal portraits are all about you and that beautiful dress you picked to wear on your wedding day.  Most people take their bridal pictures before the wedding so that they can use a picture at their wedding.  If you don’t have time to do it before your wedding, then don’t rush it.  Plan some time after your wedding to get the bridal session done.  You don’t want to miss out on these pictures that will last a lifetime.

What do you need to plan for your bridal picture session?  Try to book your hair and makeup trial the same day as your pictures.  You are already spending the money on trials, so why not look fabulous for a reason and take advantage of being all dolled up.  Where should your bridal pictures be taken?  You can take them anywhere that is special to you or, if it’s allowed, do your bridal portraits at your venue.

There aren’t many items that you need to take to your bridal picture session.  You should take any props that you would like in your pictures.  For example, if you have a sign that you want to use in a picture or if you want a picture with your dog, then take him/her along too.  Take any props to enhance the look you are going for in your bridal portrait session, but don’t go overboard.  You are the main focus and that is what should be captured in your bridal portraits.

It is a nice touch to wear the jewelry, veil, or accessories that you will be wearing on your wedding day in your portraits.  This can also include a bouquet similar to the one that you will be using to walk down the aisle.  Don’t forget the essentials that go with your dress; whether that be a petticoat, a corset, a certain kind of bra, a belt, etc.  You want to look just as perfect as you would on your wedding day.

The week before your bridal session, try to find some images of what kind of pictures you want captured.  Sending these to your photographer will ensure that you get those images you have always wanted of yourself.  Make sure to add some close ups of yourself (even if you don’t like close ups) and some pictures that show off your dress.  You have waited so long to put the wedding gown on, make sure you have some pictures that show it off.

Consider having a friend go with you to help carry the end of your dress and help with other dress related tasks, like getting the gown on.  Some materials that make up the wedding gown are stronger than others; an example would be tulle.  If your dress is made out of tulle be very careful with letting it drag outside, given that tulle is very delicate and can tear easily.  You don’t want to ruin any part of your dress before your big day.  Last, but not least, get your dress cleaned and ready for your big day after your portrait session.  Enjoy your bridal portrait session.  This is the only other time you get to wear your wedding gown.



*Betsy Villanueva


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Tips For a Healthy Bride

Spring is in the air, the sun is shining, nature is beautiful and……full of pollen and cedar. There’s nothing like being sick on your wedding day to bring down your mood! That’s why it’s important to start allergy prevention and take care of yourself well before your wedding day gets here. Of course, you can always take a prescription or over the counter allergy medication once you start feeling under the weather, but I think healthy and organic prevention is the best way to go! After all, you want to build a strong immune system, not weaken it with chemicals. The Texas hill country is full of allergens; we’ve got cedar, oak, ragweed, junipers, ash, elm,  and many more.

3lbJarHoney_pinkPhoto Credit: Fains Honey

Go to your local farmer’s market or grocery store and pick up some locally made honey — meaning within 50 miles of your location. If you take a spoonful each day, it will help acclimate your body to the pollen in the area and will hopefully lessen its effect on you. It’s very important that it be local honey, the closer the better, or it won’t help much at all.

noni_fruitPhoto Credit:

I recently discovered the amazing properties of a Hawaiian fruit, Noni. It’s a tropical fruit that’s been used for years to help the body resist infections and enviro-toxins. Noni can be taken as a juice, pill capsule or in its natural form, eaten as a fruit. Warning! Noni has an unpleasant smell that some people find unbearable. I’ve found that the pill capsules don’t have the weird flavor that you’ll get when drinking the juice or eating the fruit.

neti_pot_sinucleansePhoto Credit: SinuCleanse

Neti pots are not my favorite items to combat allergies with (I hate the feeling of having liquid in my nose — like a really big wave at the beach!), but everyone I know who uses one says it works wonders for them. It looks like a tea kettle or magic lamp, and works like nasal spray by using salt water to flush your sinuses and keep them clear. Recommended use is two times a day, especially after spending a lot of time outdoors (like floating the river).

omega-3-fatty-acidPhoto Credit: Psych Central

Omega-3 fatty acids are your best friend for a lot of reasons, one of which is allergy symptom relief. Omega-3s can be found in cold-water fish, walnuts, flaxseed oil, and grass-fed meat and eggs. Some added benefits are lower blood pressure, a healthier heart, therapeutic for children with ADHD and autism, prevents and reverses insulin resistance, and is absolutely wonderful for your skin. You can find them in capsules at the grocery store and health food stores if you don’t eat enough of it in its natural form.

crib_mattressPhoto Credit: Greenopedia

Believe it or not, your mattress could have something to do with your bad allergies! The best thing to do is find a high-quality, allergy-free cover or mattress. Wash all of your bedding with hot water at least once a week during allergy season to keep it fresh and irritant free. Check the tags of your mattresses; unless stated otherwise, most mattresses and sheets are sprayed with pesticides.

product_oil_of_oreganoPhoto Credit: Home Remedies Web

Oil of Oregano can be found in capsule form and is good for respiratory issues such as cough, asthma or allergies. It comes from the leaf of a plant called Oregano; the oil is also good for menstrual cramps, UTIs, headaches, and heart conditions. You can relieve stuffiness by putting a few drops of oregano oil to a diffuser or vapourizer. To relieve a sore throat, drink a few drops of the oil with some water or juice.


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Your Dress after the Wedding

Your wedding day is over, but you still have your wedding gown.  What do you do with the dress?  Here are a few things you can do with your gown after your big day.  The traditional idea is that your daughter will someday wear your dress on her wedding day.  It is not common to see brides wear their mothers wedding dress anymore, but if you would like to keep your gown, just in case, here are a cope of ways to store it.  First you need to have your wedding gown cleaned and preserve it.  Yes, there is a difference in cleaning it and having it preserved.  You can keep it in a box and store it or you could do something a bit more glamorous with it and use it as decoration in your home.  If you loved your dress, display it.

If you are going on a honeymoon why not take your dress with you and plan a trash the dress photo shoot.  For those of you that do not know what trash the dress is, it is a photo session of you and your husband, in a body of water, dressed in your wedding day attire.  You will have beautiful pictures and fun memories to cherish of you and your husband as newlyweds.  You might be thinking “why would I ever ruin my dress by doing trash the dress”.  Trash the dress does not mean you have to ruin your dress in any way, unless you want to.  I have asked several brides that have had a trash the dress photo shoot and all of them said their dress was just as it was before the pictures.  If you plan on taking pictures in the ocean, you might want to jump in a pool after.  It will clean all the sand off your dress and it will be as beautiful as the day you were married.  Still not convinced about a trash the dress session?  Look at these gorgeous pictures.

affordable wedding gowns for bridals



Did those pictures spark your interest?  They should!  You can be as bold with your trash the dress as you want to.


Celebrity Bridesmaid Dresses

imagesIf you have no use for your dress after your wedding, you might want to consider selling your dress.  There are a few consignment and resale shops in the Austin area where you can take your dress to.  This is a great way to get back some money to use towards your new home with your husband or to buy something you can use on a regular basis.  If you are feeling a bit more generous consider donating your dress to a cause or a friend in need.  Brides Across America, Brides Against Breast Cancer, and Wish Upon A Wedding are a few of the organizations that help brides in need fulfill their wedding dreams.  Not everyone can afford to have the dress of their dreams, but these organizations are trying to make brides dreams a reality.


Don’t leave your dress in the back of a closet to be forgotten.  Bring your dress back to life even after your wedding day.  Find which best fits you and use your dress for something great; whether it be to bring some glamour into your house, trash the dress, or donating it to a charity you are passionate about.



*Betsy Villanueva



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Going “Green”

It is becoming more and more important for us to remember our impact on the environment when going about our daily business. It should be equally as important on your big day, but it may take a little extra work! For an outdoor wedding, choose a location that will show the natural beauty of its environment. For an indoor wedding, ask around museums and art galleries; they will sometimes donate your deposit to a good cause. When choosing your wedding bands, make sure to ask the jeweler if they use conflict-free gems and recycled metals. Lastly, try to use as many local vendors as possible to support the community! As for the rest, here are a few ideas to get you started…


invitationPhoto Credit: TwistedLimbPaperworks

So much paper is wasted every year and many more trees are cut down to make even more paper! Cut back on your invitations by using only one envelope instead of the traditional outer/inner envelope design. As for the paper itself, there are many ways you can go: recycled paper, bamboo, cotton, linen, or even a plantable (yes, plant it and it will grow) invitations! Check out Twisted Limb Paper, they design 100% recycled and handmade invitations based on a consultation with you. Also, I recommend providing most of your wedding information on a custom website. That way, you won’t need to send as many invitations.


cateringPhoto Credit: Eco Caters

Ideally, you’ll want to find a catering service that offers organic, pesticide and preservative-free meal options. This may be harder to do if you don’t want to go all vegan, but it can be done (remember, it will most likely cost more to go organic). Discuss with the caterer how they will be cooking and/or serving guests. After all, what’s the point of having an organic, eco-friendly meal if you’re wasting electricity and using paper napkins and utensils? As for the cake, there are many bakeries to choose from who use only local ingredients. Just keep in mind any allergies your guests may have (i.e. nuts, gluten, dairy).


favorPhoto Credit: Wedding Photography Design

Send your guests home with their very own seedlings! This display could also double as your seating arrangement; just tag each bag with a guest’s name and corresponding table number. Make sure the seeds are all organic, and locally bought if possible. Even if you don’t use pesticides, the seeds could still be affected if they came from a plant that had pesticides used on it. Or, you could give your guests some yummy organic treats as gifts, instead! If you’d prefer not to give favors, then consider donating to a charity and letting your guests know (or even choose).



Talk to your photographer/videographer and make sure everything is digital; also find out if they use any extra lighting or equipment that would use electricity. If you are in an outdoor location, I’m sure they can help you take full advantage of the natural environment. If you are indoors, then I love the idea of having a living wall for a backdrop or central decoration. It provides so much color and life, and should make the perfect setup for taking pictures indoors!


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