8 Simple Tips to Writing Your Own Wedding Vows

Wedding Vows photo credit: emraps via photopin cc


As a special way to make their wedding uniquely theirs, more and more couples are writing their own wedding vows. If that is in your plans, here are some things to keep in mind for writing your wedding vows.

*This can be a huge undertaking. It is like being an author/poet and public speaker at the same time. Some people can pull it off and others can’t. Think about it clearly before you commit to making it an integral part of your ceremony.

59 Literary Love Quotes for Every Romantic

*Make sure it’s even possible. Many churches don’t allow personalized vows. Instead couples are required to recite a specific and traditional set of vows. Even officiants who OK the concept may want to have final approval of what you have chosen to say.

*Start early. You may have learned to cram for finals in college, but writing your wedding vows is not the time or place to just “jot down a few ideas the night before and wing it.”

Wedding Vows

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*Make sure that both of you are on the same page. The bride may have something serious and somber in mind, while the groom is thinking funny and light. Talk about the tone of the vows that will work for both of you. Pick a common theme to guide you both. Consider this – do you want to know what he/she will say before the ceremony or is it to be a surprise?

*Feel free to copy words or ideas from books or plays. Quote a famous poet or author whose work resonates with you.

*Remember what the point of a wedding vow is. It is a solemn promise, a verbal contract if you will. Don’t make the vows so personal that no one knows what you are talking about – this is not the time or place for “inside jokes.”

*Don’t go on and on and on. . . Time how long it takes to say your vows, and adjust accordingly. One minute or so is usually enough.

*Practice, practice, practice. (But remember that it is OK to read your vows so you don’t have to memorize them).

Hearts, Joy, Love!

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For more wedding planning tips & ideas, contact me at jean@weddingsfromtheheart.net or at 937-235-2586.

Shhhh! 4 Things The Wedding “Experts” Don’t Want You To Know

Shhh! 4 Things the Wedding "Experts" Don't Want You To Know photo credit: uochi. via photopin cc

A great thing about planning your wedding is that you don’t have to go it alone. There are literally hundreds, no thousands, of superb professionals out there who will make sure you have the wedding of your dreams.

Unfortunately, the wedding industry has very little regulation – meaning there isn’t much that a person has to do to be an “expert.” A guy with a good camera can call himself a photographer. A gal who planned her own wedding can call herself a wedding planner.

Here are a few things to look out for to help you make sure you’re really getting what you’re paying for.

1. Their “title” may be just something they chose themselves, not because they’ve earned it

Titles such as “wedding planner,” or “event decorator” aren’t regulated, meaning that there are no special requirements a person has to meet in order to be called that.

Super easy for a person wanting to get into the business, but not so good for the person requiring their services.

So when someone says they are a “wedding planner,” or an “event designer,” or a “wedding dj,” or whatever their specialty, be sure to ask “Sez who?” What training have they received? What experience do they have? What are their real qualifications?

2. Not all training is created equal

* Was it a one-day workshop? A 5-week course?

If a course is too short it may have only covered the basics, skimmed over (or omitted) important information. Longer courses are often more extensive and thorough.


* Who taught the class?

Let’s use DJs as an example. OK, I’ve been around the block a few times, and have seen many DJs in action – the good, the bad, and the downright ugly – so I can definitely offer pointers on how to be a good DJ.

Now let’s take this example one step further and create a “Wedding DJ Certification Program” – put together a few documents on how to be a good DJ, create a test, and have wannabe DJs take my “course.” Once they complete it I’ll give them a pretty certificate showing their “certification.”

The certification makes them look reputable, but . . . I am not a DJ, have never DJ’d an event, so I have no business teaching others on how to be a DJ. Therefore this “certification” isn’t worth much.

This example goes for all types of wedding vendors, including planners and designers.


3. How did they get on that “Preferred Vendor List”?

Many wedding vendors, especially venues, offer Preferred Vendor Lists to their clients. It’s useful and helpful to know which vendors are actually recommended by other vendors. If they’re on a list, that can mean that they are good to work with, and provide a good product/service . . . I mean, who’s going to recommend someone who isn’t any good, right?

But being on a list isn’t always the whole story. How did they get on the list in the first place?

Many companies actually charge vendors to be on their list. So they’re on a “preferred” list because they paid to be there, not because of their skills and abilities.

Not all companies charge, so be sure to ask how they came up with their list.

* As a side note – just because they’re on a preferred list doesn’t mean that they’re the best fit for you. Recommending someone because they’re “good” doesn’t mean that they are the right fit for you. The basis for recommendations and referrals should always include: their availability for your event date, their style fits what you are looking for, and their pricing fits into your budget. Anything less is meaningless.

4. Not all wedding consortiums/organizations/groups are created equal

“Surround yourself with like minded people. Success is a group activity.” ~ Angel Alzona

Studies have shown that people who are around like-minded individuals are more successful. Like-minded people are your allies which becomes a sense of community.

But . . .

What criteria is required to be a member of that group?

Like asking how they came up with a preferred vendor list, it’s important to know how local wedding groups recruit and accept their members. Is it a “pay to play,” meaning all you have to do is pay dues or a membership fee to be a member? Or is there a screening process involved?

Hearts, Joy, Love!

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Do you have a question or wedding concern? Let me know. I’d be happy to help. Contact me at jean@weddingsfromtheheart.net or at 937-235-2586.

The Bridesmaid Entourage….Coordinating Your Group of Gals by Kristi Richardson – Bloomed to Last





What a difference a year makes. Even though there is much argument over the state of the economy, one trend is quite clear to me….the growth of the bridal party or as I like to say, the Entourage. Last year the average bridal party had 3 bridesmaids and 3 groomsmen. Not this year. That number has doubled! I have even had bridal parties with 8 or more bridesmaids and groomsmen. That’s 16 or more attendees. WOW!

Don’t get me wrong, from a business perspective I’m not complaining. I think it’s great that you want ALL of your dear family & friends stand up with you. Really! But, what I think happens is that couples don’t really understand that having a larger bridal party also means more headaches, greater coordination, and larger budgets.

Is it worth it? Absolutely…as long as you understand this going in. Trying to coordinate 6 attendees on either side can be difficult; especially when it comes to selecting a gown that works with your theme, in your bridesmaids’ budgets, and will be flattering on each of their body types.

Groomsmen, on the other hand, are notorious for procrastinating to have their fittings done… especially when they live out of town. And have you ever tried setting a meeting with 6-12 attendees where everyone could make it? HA!

Don’t forget, then comes selecting accessories, setting up hair appointments, picking out matching shoes, finding transportation to get everyone to and from, and creating timelines/checklists/task etc. Get the picture?




The bigger the Bridesmaid Entourage the bigger your flower budget will need to be, specifically for bouquets. Don’t expect to have custom made bouquets created for less than half the cost of what you spend for your bouquet. (Not going to happen.) It’s not to say that there are not more cost effective alternatives, (which I am going to share with you next), but honestly, be realistic about the cost.

I pride myself and my business on always providing options to my clients. It’s my responsibility as an Event Designer, Décor Diva, and Floral Artist to help them create this stunning look. Most of the bridesmaids’ bouquets I design or create are simpler, slightly different, or smaller than the bridal bouquet. (No one outshines the Bride)

So what can you do when flower bouquets are not an option or you are looking for something totally unique? That’s easy…..there are tons of other non-flower options that can create amazing drama. For example, colorful parasols are stunning, totally stylish, and really cost effective.



Another great option is candles or lanterns. These are especially perfect for beach, seaside and fall weddings. The also add additional ambience to evening and winter ceremonies. Lanterns and candles come in so many styles, your possibilities are endless. You can dress them up or dress them down. You can add flowers, ribbons, or bows. And don’t forget to reuse them at the reception to light things up. (Gotta love create once and use twice designs.)

Fans are delightful non-floral bouquet options. They are wonderful for summer, Asian, Vintage or other themed weddings (like Peacock) They come is a variety of colors, sizes, and materials; ranging widely in cost.

I can’t tell you how many pomanders I have made in my career. These spherical bouquets can be made from a variety of materials. Grapevine or twig balls are really popular. But I have created ones using ribbon, shells, buttons, lace, berries, rhinestones, etc. What’s great about this style is that can be converted into centerpieces or be hung above the dance floor for a secondary use. There cost will depend on the materials you choose and the overall size.







No matter if you are having 2 bridesmaids or 8, it’s important to understand what it takes to keep your Entourage in style, on budget, and on track to be your amazing supporting cast. I would love to know, “How many attendees are you having in your Bridal Party Entourage?” (Tell me in the comments below)

**If you are struggling trying to keep everyone in line contact me for help at 304-260-6446. Don’t worry, I will have them back on track in no time, you’ll stay on budget, get an amazing look, and have less wedding planning stress.**

Panhandle WV, Shenandoah Valley & Northern Event Planner & Designer, Kristi Richardson, publishes the “Bloomed to Last Secrets” blog filled with secrets, tips and WOWs for planning your fabulous event. Get your exclusive inspiration, tips and tricks at http://www.BloomedToLast.com. Bloomed To Last is an event planning and design company based in the Panhandle of WV, Shenandoah Valley & Northern region of VA, also serving Frederick MD, the District of Columbia and select destination locations.

Happy Planning!

Bloomed to Last

Photo Credits: Pink Bridesmaids / Teal Bridesmaids / Bridesmaids with Parasols / Bridesmaids with Pomanders

6 Easy Ways to Save Money on Your Wedding Invitations


6 Easy Ways to Save Money on Your Wedding Invitations

photo credit: William Arthur Fine Stationery via photopin cc
1. Forgo upgrades such as envelope liners and custom ink colors.

2. Order extras now. It costs less to order an additional 25 now than have to reorder 25 more later.

3. Don’t have a separate Reception Card. Instead put ceremony and reception info on same card. Saves you money, and guests will have all the information on one card.

Print Reception Information on Invitation Instead of a Separate Card

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4. Forgo the Pre-Stamped RSVP card. Instead include a link to your wedding website or your email address. Make sure you also include a phone number for guests who aren’t online.

Eco-Friendly Wedding Invitations & Other “Green” Tips

5. Avoid square or over-sized invitations. They look stylish, but cost more to mail than standard sized ones.

6. Print it yourself. Order blank invitations (Mountain Cow is an excellent source) or purchase from your local office supply store. Be sure to get extras so you can practice.

Hearts, Joy, Love!

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For more money saving tips and planning ideas, contact me at jean@weddingsfromtheheart.net or at 937-235-2586.

3 Guest List SNAFU’s That Will Make You Go “AARRGGHHH” on Your Wedding Day (And What to Do About Them)

Wedding Guest List SNAFUs - Screaming BrideYou’ve got it all planned out. Your guest list is complete, invitations have been mailed out, and you’re anxiously awaiting for the RSVPS to be returned so you’ll know how many people to plan for. Sometimes things go awry. Here are 3 common guest list SNAFUs that can happen, and how to deal with them.

1. An invited guest shows up to your wedding who didn’t RSVP
One of the biggest headaches in planning a wedding is getting your invited guests to RSVP. Most people aren’t trying to be inconsiderate, they just forget.

But you’ve carefully counted all the “yes” responses and have planned accordingly – gave an accurate head count to the caterer, ordered enough chair covers and sashes, made enough favors … Having to accommodate unplanned people at the last minute just throws everything off.

Are You Coming? – What to Do When Your Guests Don’t RSVP

Don’t assume that just because someone didn’t RSVP it means that they are not coming. Instead, when that “Please respond by” date on your RSVP card comes and goes, you (with help from your fiancé, mom, your bridesmaids) need to contact the non-RSVPers and find out if they are planning to attend.

You may decide to have an extra table at your reception to accommodate any unexpected guests.

2. Someone RSVPs, but you didn’t invite them
Now this isn’t about them bringing someone because you put “and Guest” on their invitation, because that gives them the ok to bring one person, whoever they want.

I’m talking about when an invited guest takes it upon his or herself and invites someone else to your wedding.

Because they have RSVPed, this gives you time to figure out why they think they were invited (and who really invited them). Once this is determined, contact the over-zealous inviter, and, politely but firmly, explain to them that their “+ 1” is not on your guest list, and you cannot accommodate any additional people.

Again, you may choose to have an extra table to accommodate any unplanned extras.

3. Someone just shows up (and no RSVP either), who you didn’t even invite
You didn’t invite them. They didn’t RSVP. They just show up. Even though they probably aren’t intending to be wedding crashers, technically that’s what they are.

This issue is more prevalent since Facebook and other social media, since these methods of communication allow for many people have access to your wedding plans, not just those you’ve actually sent or plan to send an invitation to.

You have two options. You may decide to have an extra table to accommodate any extra guests. Or, you can have someone at your reception with a master list of who was invited and expected to attend. Anyone not on the list are politely and tactfully told that they weren’t expected and are not permitted to enter.

Good luck!

Hearts, Joy, Love!

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Do you have a question or wedding dilemma? Let me know. I’d be happy to help. Contact me at jean@weddingsfromtheheart.net or at 937-235-2586.

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Why June Is Traditionally The Month For Weddings

Juno, the Roman Goddess of Marriage

The Roman goddess Juno rules over marriage, the hearth and childbirth, hence the popularity of June weddings.

June, named after Juno, the Roman goddess of marriage, has long been the most popular month. She would bring prosperity and happiness to all who wed in her month.

Ok, that’s the romantic version.

The real scoop?

Waaaaaay back when, people did not take daily baths and showers as we do today. Sure, they cleaned themselves on a regular basis, but a bath was an annual event. Due to the warmer weather, the annual bath usually took place at the end of May or early June.

So what better time to have a wedding than when everyone is so fresh and squeaky clean?

Hearts, Joy, Love!

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Are you planning your June wedding (or any other time of the year)? Contact me at jean@weddingsfromtheheart.net or at 937-235-2586.

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