Giveaway: Win an iPhone! Enter our Pinterest contest for a chance to score

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You heard us right! We’ve teamed up with mywedding.com to give one lucky person an iPhone. How cool is that?

As two tech-centric businesses in the wedding space, we know that technology can be a lifesaver when it comes to weddings, whether you’re a bride, groom or guest. An outdated phone can really put a damper on the celebration, instead of helping you organize and enjoy the moments. I mean, who wants to be stuck waiting for five minutes for the camera to boot up, when picture-perfect wedding moments are passing you by? Answer: no one (duh).

How can you score this new iPhone, you ask? Well, the answer is simple. Just go to our giveaway page and follow the steps to enter. It should take 30 seconds or less.

CLICK HERE TO ENTER OUR IPHONE GIVEAWAY!

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This giveaway is sponsored in part by mywedding.com, the best place to begin your wedding planning adventure. With their myriad of services, mywedding.com is a go-to place for brides and grooms to create a celebration that is uniquely about them.

Better hurry up and enter this giveaway soon — it ends Friday, August 1st! And trust us, that time is going to fly by, so make sure to get your entry in before it’s too late. Oh, and if you’re curious about the fine print, you can read our giveaway terms here.

Click the giveaway link or the image above to enter our giveaway now. Best of luck — we can’t wait to award one of you guys this awesome iPhone!

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Hospitality 101: How to Book Hotel Rooms for Your Wedding Guests

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Gianluca Adovasio

Having a destination wedding? Tons of people coming in from out of town just to attend your wedding? Don’t have a gigantic multi-million dollar estate with a whole bunch of rooms and butlers and maids waiting on your perfectly manicured hand?

Sounds like you need to book hotel rooms for your guests.

Admittedly, I hate administrative tasks that require me to actually make a phone call (major phone anxiety, this one), so I can see how tempting it would be to push this hefty task to the far corners of my mind. However, if you’re looking for the best bargain out there, taking the time to research which hotels offer the best rates in the best locations will be well worth the happiness of your guests and yourselves.

There are a lot of factors to consider when booking your hotel, and these are just a few of those factors:

  • What’s the minimum number of rooms I can reserve for a block?
  • What are the rates?
  • Is there a group discount?
  • What percentage of these rooms have to be filled up?
  • How many people are coming out-of-town and need to stay overnight?
  • Do I need to pay a deposit?
  • Where is this hotel located? Is it easily accessible by public transport?
  • Are there interesting things to do around the hotel?

Typically, for large hotel chains at least, you should be able to find this sort of information easily on the FAQs page. However, if your concerns require a little more sleuthing, there are plenty of travel resources out there that can help you out with reserving hotel rooms with minimal stress.

Dissecting the Terminology

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 Vanity Fair

Weirdly enough, you’d think that reserving rooms would actually be pretty foolproof. After all, you just go to the hotel’s website, enter the dates that you want to stay over, and you pay and get a room! However, reserving room blocks can be more of a hassle, especially since wedding season coincides with vacation time and rooms are getting snapped up like free hot dogs.

  • hotel block: A hotel block is essentially what it sounds like — a “block” of hotel rooms. Essentially, you’ll be able to reserve a section/# of hotel rooms in the hotel for your guests.
  • regular hotel block: A regular hotel block generally requires you to pay some sort of deposit that will cover a fraction of the total cost that is needed to reserve the hotel rooms that you need. This sort of block doesn’t have a hard limit on the number you can reserve as long as they are available. Understandably, couples that are strapped on money are wary of this option, as the guests should be the one paying for the rooms.
  • courtesy hotel block: What most hotels don’t advertise is the option of the “courtesy hotel block”. If you specifically request a courtesy hotel block, hotels will offer to block off up to 20-30 rooms for free. The only requirement is that guests reserve rooms by a certain date. After that date, rooms that are not reserved will be sold again to the public by the hotel.
  • cut-off date: The cut-off date is the last date guests are able to reserve rooms within the hotel block specifically reserved for the wedding. After that date, the rooms are open to the public once more and there is no guarantee that guests can reserve those rooms. The cut-off date is usually one to two months before the start date of the actual reservation.
  • group rate: If a large group plans to reserve the entire block, it is entirely possible that the hotel will provide them a discount in order to sell as many rooms as possible. The group rate could be as much as 20% off the original cost. Couples should make sure that the group rate is included in the hotel contract should they need to sign one.
  • complimentary room: Often times, hotels will throw in a complimentary room if a large number of hotel rooms are needed and reserved for the wedding day. This could be just an extra room or a bridal suite — it’s just something nice to have on the side.
  • shoulder days: Shoulder days are days that give your guests extra time to stay at the hotel and accommodates their travels. Especially if this is a destination wedding, shoulder days can be useful in giving your guests ample time to get settled into their room, get accustomed to their surroundings, and explore the location during their free time.
  • attrition clause: The attrition clause will appear in a contract that you may have to sign in order to secure a hotel block. Essentially, the fees for approximately 80% of the rooms must be paid for, regardless of how many rooms are actually inhabited. More on that later.

Now that we know the terminology, it’ll be a lot easier to actually understand what the heck I’m talking about when I’m talking about…

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A hip vintage wedding at the Smog Shoppe by Steve Cowell Photography

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We’re rounding out the week with another dose of prettiness for all you brides. On Monday we featured a gorgeously romantic beach engagement session by Steve Cowell, and you all loved it so much that we knew we had to feature Steve’s work again! This time though, we’ve got Nick and Shannon’s wedding day. You have no idea how much we oooh-ed and ahhh-ed over this beautiful day when we saw it, and we’re sure you all are bound to have the same reaction.

Shannon and Nick were married in Southern California, with the day starting out at Culver Hotel and ending with a lovely ceremony and reception at The Smog Shoppe in LA. I love how the whole day was styled marvelously by Jessi Haack to have a wonderfully subtle hip, vintage wedding vibe. Shannon’s style was reminiscent of a vintage, art-deco bride, but with a modern touch — I mean, her tattoos are pretty amazing and totally complete the look. On top of it all, they had a taco bar for dinner, hanging floral centerpieces, and a ring bearer that is just. Too. Cute.

Ready to see more?

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All Rise: Owning Your Wedding With Your Officiant

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Dark Roux

For an event that revolves so largely around the concept of marriage, it’s somewhat surprising to read all these in-depth wedding planning tales and hear very little about probably the most important person in the ceremony (besides the bride and groom). That’s right, I’m talking about the officiant here.

The officiant, the minister, the rabbi, the whatever you want to call him/her is in charge of leading the wedding ceremony. Additionally, he/she is vested by the powers of the state to make your marriage legally binding, which means that your officiant is a pretty big deal. Admittedly, trying to find your perfect officiant is less glamorous than trying to figure out what kind of flowers you want to have at your wedding, but someone has to sign the marriage license and pronounce you spouses!

Although it’d be pretty hilarious if you had The Impressive Clergyman from Princess Bride officiating for you.

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Right…

Anyway, there is quite a bit of effort involved in finding an officiant that won’t (these have actually happened, taken from personal accounts):

  • ding-dong-ditch with your $100 and leave your wedding photographer to be the surprise officiant
  • take the opportunity to turn a meaningful sermon into a homophobic, politicized rant
  • call your tasteful choice in classical walk-down-the-aisle music “pornographic” (C’mon, “Air on G String” pornographic?!? You gotta be kidding me!)
  • forget to sign the marriage license altogether, rendering your expensive wedding somewhat meaningless in legal terms

Nowadays, it seems like finding a great officiant is sort of striking it lucky, but it honestly just takes a bit of research, some phone calls, and communication to figure out who exactly you want as an officiant (and who you can promptly ditch).

See what’s legal in your state & county

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Glen Wilbourn Photography

I feel like one of the biggest reasons why looking for an officiant is a huge pain in the arse is because there are so many laws regarding marriage that differ not only by state, but by county as well (the ‘federal rights’ vs. ‘states’ rights’ debate never fails to give me a headache). Because there are so many religious denominations out there, it’s sort of hard to keep track of what sort of officiant works under that county’s specific jurisdiction. But this is when I emphasize doing your research, because if your officiant isn’t able to legally wed you in the location of your venue, then you’re going through a LOT of trouble without reaping the most important reward! For instance, in Pennsylvania, you cannot use an officiant who has been ordained online.

The Monastery does a great job of breaking down the legal requirements in each state (as well as showcase the complexity of the law via a nifty meter!) For county requirements, you’ll probably have to contact the county clerk for more information regarding the specifics.

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