A Guide to Beautiful Wedding Invitations

By September 18, 2016 Real Advice

Wedding invitations are an integral part of a wedding’s theme and the mood you want to set for your big day. After all, if the purpose were to solely inform the guests of the details of the event, then you could just send an email or postcard. However, the invitation also serves as a souvenir of a special occasion, and an announcement of a couple’s love. Like the wedding itself, it must be beautiful and personal.

Selecting the Wedding Invitation’s Design

There are thousands of ready-made wedding invitations to choose from; simply select a design, send the details, and the printer can have it ready within weeks. With such a wide selection, it may be difficult to pick which one is best.

Here are the things to consider:

  • Formal or casual. You want a wedding invitation to complement the overall theme and mood of the wedding. Is your wedding formal or casual? A formal wedding may need classic script fonts, formal wording, and the traditional double envelope. A more casual invitation may use more modern fonts and more natural wording (i.e., instead of  “we cordially invite you”, say “please join us”), but care must be taken to retain the solemnity of the occasion. Let’s say you want to enclose a photo of you and your fiance typically done for traditional invitations. Wear appropriate clothes to the photo shoot: shorts and tank tops simply don’t work.
  • Color. You should always choose a subdued color. If you are using a rather bright color for your motif, like turquoise, opt for a delicate ribbon trim or small accents at the sides or corners rather than applying it to the whole invitation. This makes the invitation look more classy, and again, is in keeping with the nature of the event. It’s a wedding, not a night dancing at a trendy club.
  • Personal Touches. You can add a short poem, a photo of the couple, or a song lyric from the wedding ceremony.

Wedding Invitation Inserts

Most wedding invitation companies can provide a selection of templates where you just have to fill in the specific names, places and dates. However, many couples prefer to make their own, to make the invitation less stiff and more personalized.

If so, here are a few guidelines:

  • It is not necessary to put the wedding party in the invitation. However, you can have a separate piece of paper listing the members that can be inserted in select invitations – specifically those that go to the wedding party themselves, and to the more immediate family and friends. They would appreciate the souvenir; plus, it is a way of thanking them for their participation.
  • You’d never forget to put the date and the venue, but many couples forget to put a map to the church and/or reception area. A map would be very helpful, and would save many guests any inconvenience especially if the wedding is located in a place they are unfamiliar with.
  • If you are trying to control the number of guests, insert a small card that says, “We have reserved __ seats for you.”  This is a subtle and polite way of minimizing the headcount.
  • If you are moving to a new home after the wedding, you can include another small insert announcing your new address.

If you are looking for someone to help create the right invitation for your wedding, you may want to check out some of these local Chicago vendors that specialize in amazing invitations!







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A Guide to Hiring Wedding Professionals

By September 24, 2015 Real Advice

One of the most challenging things about getting married is finding and hiring the wedding vendors. However large or small their roles may be, they will have a significant impact in the overall outcome of your wedding day. Because of this, it is imperative to take your time and follow some very simple steps to ensure you are hiring quality and reputable wedding professionals that you can trust.

As you will soon discover, there is really no shortage of wedding vendors in any given category. The goal is finding the professional that is right for you, not only with product, service and price, but with personality as well. The search for wedding day vendors can begin in a number of places. Knowing where to look and what to look for will assist you in your search. The following are suggestions as to where you may begin the search for your vendors.

Bridal Shows

The greatest value in bridal shows is the opportunity to meet with a large number of wedding vendors and view many products at one time, in one location. There are many categories of vendors represented at the shows, making it an invaluable tool for doing research and for gathering wedding-related information. When you find vendors you particularly interested in, make a note of it and call soon after the show to book a personal one on one appointment.

Ceremony and Reception Location

The locations you select for your wedding day are quite familiar with particular vendors, and usually have a preferred vendor list. The vendors on this list have worked at that site many times before and are familiar with the logistics and rules of the location.

Friends and Family

You will usually get honest no nonsense answers and opinions regarding products and services when you ask married friends and family members (even co-workers) about their own weddings. Ask them about their vendors, the services they used, what they liked and didn’t like, would they hire them again, etc.?

The Internet

The Internet is an easy access, easy to use, anytime resource. You can find a wealth of vendors on the web. Checking out a vendor’s web site can give you a good idea of pricing, packages, and type of work they do before making a personal appointment.

Local Bridal Magazines

Using local wedding magazines and directories can at first seem overwhelming, as there are a large number of advertisements in these publications. You can, however, find excellent vendors in the magazines, but it will take some calling around to acquaint yourself with these vendors.

Wedding Planners/Consultants

Wedding consultants have several pre-established relationships with local vendors. If you are working with a consultant, she should be able to provide you with preferred vendor list. However, if you are not working with a consultant, you can still benefit from this knowledge, as most consultants will share their preferred vendor list with you for a fee.


Once you have made your final decisions, you must get a written contract. Call the vendor to confirm the details and ask for a contract to be sent to you. A contract is the best way of ensuring you and the vendor understand what is expected, as it should outline specifics such as dates, times, names, and types of services/products provided. It will also spell out payment plans, refund and cancellation policies. It behooves you to read and understand the contract. Do not assume you have secured a vendor for your wedding day until you have a contract that is signed by you and the vendor. And finally remember, part of getting the most from a vendor’s service is also being a good client and providing the vendors with the payments and other requested information in a timely manner.

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Wedding Masterpiece Films

By August 4, 2014 Featured Vendors

I had the great privileged to work with another amazing Chicago Wedding Cinematographer this past weekend.  Elias Neris of Wedding Masterpiece Films.

Anyone looking for an amazing artist, and all around great guy to document their wedding should definitely contact Elias!

As a Chicago Wedding Video and Film company. We are very passionate about our work and work closely with our clients to create a unique film ensuring to capture those emotional moments, and retelling your story. We thrive on making our clients vision of their day come to life by carefully listening to your every need and constantly looking for those key moments on your special day. Every detail from your flowers to your dress were carefully picked out and we strive to make your special day our special day by ensuring to capture those things that were most important when planning and preparing for your grand day.


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Stress, Anxiety and Weddings

By January 10, 2014 Real Advice

Weddings. We’ve all seen them. Some of us have been to one or two of them. A few probably have participated in one. However, none of us can really know what it feels like to get married until the moment arrives when one sits at the altar, with half your instincts telling you to run to the nearest exit and not look back.

The fact is, weddings cause brides and grooms insane amounts of stress and anxiety. From the moment the guy decides to propose, there’s an undue amount of pressure that has to be dealt with. Selecting the perfect place, finding the right ring, and getting the mood for that particular event just right can wreak untold havoc on an otherwise normal and fully functioning mind. Of course, this is nothing compared to the stress and anxiety that comes with actually planning the wedding…

So, how does a couple that is navigating through the wedding planning process deal with all of the stress associated with planning, work and all of normal life that still needs to occur during the planning process?

One of the easiest ways to reduce wedding day stress is to hire the right vendors!  Whether you decide to hire a wedding planner or day of coordinator to help with the process, you can rely on the expertise of the various other vendors that you are hiring for your wedding day celebration.  From the florist and photographer to the reception venue manager and everyone in between – don’t be afraid to reach out to get feedback to help you with your planning questions and decisions.

The vendors you select to help produce your wedding day are most likely to be more than happy to help you in any way that they can!  Just remember to Keep Calm, and Marry On…

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Selecting the Perfect Wedding Reception Venue

By January 6, 2014 Real Advice, Venue Spotlight

He proposed.  You said yes.  What next?

There are certainly many things that will be on your wedding planning list after you start planning for the big event.  However there are certain things you should get out of the way sooner rather than later.  An obvious start is to begin with the big building blocks, namely the ceremony and reception locations.

You typically won’t have a lot of time to reserve your reception site. The most popular sites go quickly, especially in Chicago!  You should choose your location about one year prior to your event, and for some more popular locations – that might even be cutting it close!

Here are some various questions that you and your fiance can think about when deciding on where you’d like to have your reception.  You might also want to head on over to Chicago Wedding Venues, which is an amazing site where you can view amazing photographs of over 150 Chicago area Reception Venues.

Does it feel right?
It might seem silly, but first impressions are also important in deciding on your wedding reception site. If you walk into a venue and you have an uncomfortable feeling, or you are simply uneasy about the whole place, you might want to move on and continue your search. But, if you find the place charming, you might move on to the next question.

Is it big enough?
Yes, size does matter when it comes to wedding reception venues. The space has to accommodate your wedding party. It is a simple thing, but you need to make sure the place is large enough. You need to consider not only your wedding guests but also everything from your DJ to the dance floor to the place for your wedding cake. If you ask nicely, they might let you visit the place in action. Yes, it’s best to get a feel for the size of the place, as it is being setup for a wedding reception.

Is there enough parking?
You’ll definitely need to make sure your wedding guests can park. For most locations in the Suburbs of Chicago – this typically isn’t a problem.  However some downtown locations are harder to manage.  If parking is unavailable you should arrange a shuttle or a van to take your wedding guests from the wedding ceremony to the reception.

Is it private?
For example, if you would like a private reception, you should not even consider public places such as parks. If privacy is very important, you need to arrange a private estate. Even hotels and restaurants can be less private than you might think since they often host multiple events simultaneously. If this bothers you, you need to make sure there are no other events are scheduled for your wedding day.

Does it have a view?
A great view can add to the overall experience of your wedding guests. Whether it’s a dramatic skyline view, a beautiful garden, historic park, wonderful art, a great wedding reception will always have something fantastic to see.

Is it well lit?
In addition to the above, you should make sure the reception hall is well lit. Light can make or break your event. The lighting of the room sets the overall mood of the space, so make sure you see the place lit during your walk through.

How much does it cost to use the venue? How much do you have to pay up front?
You should never pay more than fifty percent of the total rental cost. If you put a deposit down, ask about their refund policy. Anything can happen, and you might need to cancel your reservation. You must get the cancellation policy in writing.

What exactly is included in the wedding reception package?
You should never take their word for anything (yes, this sounds harsh!). You must get it in writing even if you think you have never met a more trustworthy person in your life. Are chairs, tables, plates, and such included?

What time can you occupy and what time do you have to vacate the reception site?

How much are you going to be charged if you stay longer?

Are they insured in case an accident happens?
Has an accident ever happened, and how did they handle it?

Do you have to use their caterer, or can you hire your own?

Are you going to be the only event scheduled on your wedding day?
Could there be any scheduling conflicts, if there are other events scheduled for the same day?

Do they have a liquor license?

Are there any references that you may contact?
No references should be a showstopper.

Can you visit the venue as they setup for a wedding, so you can see what the site looks like for the big occasion?

How much flexibility do you have to move things around the room?
Can you make the adjustments to the furniture and such to accommodate your event?

Is parking available, and how much does it cost?
Is there valet service?

Are the bathrooms and other facilities clean?

Is there a dressing room available for the bride and groom?

Who is going to be there during your wedding reception in case you need assistance?
Is there security on the premises? Has there been any criminal activity at the venue?

Hopefully some of the questions will help you in your search for the perfect wedding reception venue!  Don’t forget to check out Chicago Wedding Venues, and jumpstart your Reception Venue search!

Chicago Wedding Venues


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Amazing Chicago Cinematographer

By January 6, 2014 Featured Vendors

I’ve actually had the occasion to work with JJ Kim at Orange Wedding Films a handful of times over the past few years.  In my years of experience of a wedding photographer, I’ve seen a broad range of talent in the videography field.  Some good, some not so good.  After seeing JJ’s work – I was blown away.

It takes a special talent to weave wedding footage into something as touching as the films that JJ creates for his clients.  Amazing work, that’s for sure!

I’ve linked to one of his recent trailers here so that you can see what I’m talking about!

Be sure to check out JJ if you are looking for someone that will capture your amazing day…well, amazingly!


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Choosing the Right Makeup Artist

By January 2, 2014 Real Advice

Are you concerned about finding a trust worthy makeup artist to work with your wedding party on one of the most important days of your life?  There are likely thousands of make-up artists in your area.  So how do you choose the right one for you?

  1. The most common mistakes made by brides today is having their make-up applied in a salon or in home by a hair stylist.  Although there are some artists who practice their hair and make-up talents equally, it is extremely uncommon. It is important to find an artist who specializes in make-up artistry, both airbrushing and traditional.
  2. Try to hire the actual artist. Avoid large companies not only because they’re usually over priced, but because there is a chance that the same artist you have a trial session with, will not be the one to make it on your wedding day. Their employees are known as some what disposable. The booking company takes a large cut, leaving the artist unmotivated. Not to mention, it isn’t the artists reputation that is ruined if they decided to flake on a wedding.
  3. I urge each and every bride who is reading this to try airbrush make-up. The best brand I have ever worked with is Kett Cosmetics. The make-up is water based and gluten free, lasts through the most extreme heat and will remain flawless until you decide to wash your face. I have successfully camouflaged tattoos with water proof airbrush make-up by Kett Cosmetics.  Don’t worry, it will not rub off on your dress! It is truly amazing technology!
  4. If a make-up artists is asking under $50 per face, start asking questions. The average price for a quality full face make-up application is between $65 and $75 for bridesmaids and anywhere from $100-$175 for a bride. Ask for photos of their recent work, how many weddings the artist works per year and most importantly, in what year did the artist complete make-up school?
  5. No matter what, have a trial session with your make-up artist! What you will look like on your wedding day should be a planned work of art created by your make-up artist and yourself. This will enable both of you to come prepared on your magical day. Be sure to e-mail your artist a photo of yourself along with samples of make-up styles you like.


Paula Heckenast
Chicago Wedding Make-up Artist

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