BRIDAL BLOG

Featured Vendor – Hawkins Photography

Hawkins Photography is passionate about helping you capture your precious memories. We asked them to tell us a little bit about what makes them stand out among the many photographers out there. Let them tell you, in their own words, what makes them unique.

Please tell us about your business. What services are you able to provide for brides and weddings?

[We are a] full service, family owned photographer, offering a full service, all inclusive package with built in installment plan.

Why does your business like working with brides, or at weddings?

We love getting to be part of your love story. Every wedding is unique, and being part of yours is a privilege and an honor.

What can your business provide to brides or weddings that is unique from competitors?

Hawkins Photography is humbled to be part of your special day and understand what an honor it is to be chosen. When we photograph your wedding, we take on the responsibility to ensure you don’t miss a single beautiful memory by not offering time limits on your wedding day and providing every photo taken in digital form. You hire us to capture your memories, but they are still YOUR memories.

Tell us about your packages. Do you have any bridal, group, or special wedding discounts?

We only offer one package – the right way to do a wedding, including an engagement session so you get comfortable with your photographer, attending your rehearsal so we know what happens and all of the technical details to make sure we get the best possible photo of every moment, no time limits on the wedding day, and many more benefits. We do have additional options including video, photo booth and a photographic guest book. We’d love to talk to you and tell you all about the options.

What else do you want to share or want brides to know about your business? What kind of message are you looking for brides to understand about your business?

We are different from other wedding photographers because we don’t believe you should be worried about scheduling your memories to happen in a specific block of hours. The memories that make your wedding day special will happen when they happen. It’s our job to be there to capture it when they do, so every package we offer includes unlimited time. Every wedding is a blend of the traditional and the moments that make it uniquely yours. We attend your wedding rehearsal to make sure we know what those unique moments are and where we need to be to make sure we capture the moments for you – that’s OUR job. Your job is to relax and experience your day. Please call for a private one on one consultation. Your wedding photographer will be with you during the most important day of your life, and you need to ensure that he or she is not only a great photographer, but also a good personality fit. We would love the opportunity to sit down with you talk to you about our passion to make sure you have the best experience possible.

Are there any special offers you’d like to make brides aware of?

Exclusive Offer – Coupon Code HAWKLBA – get $150 off your photographic guest book.

Guest Blogger – Prepare for your Destination Wedding

Do you have dreams of having a romantic wedding on a tropical island on the beach or maybe a vineyard in a rustic Mediterranean country in Europe? If you yearn for a small intimate affair between you and your closest friends and family in a foreign country, you need more than a plane and a passport to make sure that your dreams come true.

If you are planning to wed outside the United States, you need to educate yourself about the marriage requirements of that country. Just like the United States, the foreign country will require proof of residency, such as a valid United States passport, birth certificate or other proof of residency. In addition to birth certificates, some countries may also require divorce decrees or death certificates to authenticate your eligibility for marriage. Those countries may also require that those documents are authenticated in the United States by a consular official from the country in which you plan to wed. (Consular assistance is help and advice provided by the diplomatic agents of a country to citizens of that country—who are living or traveling overseas). Some countries may also require that the document proving birth, death or divorce be translated into the local language. This process can be time consuming and expensive.

In addition to the proper identification, some countries may require blood tests and/or other medical tests to be completed by the parties. Some countries may even require you or your spouse-to-be to have resided in their country for a set period of time prior to the wedding.
Most foreign countries may require an “Affidavit of Eligibility to Marry.” This document proves you have the legal capacity to marry. There is no government-issued “Affidavit of Eligibility to Marry” in the United States. Most countries will accept a statement from you attesting to your ability to marry, if your signature on the affidavit has been notarized by a United States consular officer.

If you have already planned your wedding and realize that you have not met the local rules of your foreign country and do not have the time to meet that country’s requirement, do not fret. You can always go forward with the ceremony for yourself and your guests and make arrangements to be legally married in the United States in a private ceremony before or after your destination wedding. Obviously, if you have not complied with the laws established by the foreign country, your marriage in that country will not be valid.

The embassy or tourist information bureau of the country in which the marriage is to be performed is the best source of information about marriage in that country. In addition, American embassies and consulates abroad frequently have information about marriage in the country in which they are located. For more information, you can also visit: https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/passports.htmlhttps://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/passports.html.

Torree J. Breen is the chair of the Family Law Practice Group and is a member of the firm’s Litigation Group.  She also serves as Secretary on the firm’s Board of Directors.  Ms. Breen specializes in family law, divorce, child custody disputes, no-fault litigation, insurance coverage, and handicapped accessible housing coverage.  In 2016, Ms. Breen was awarded a Regional Leadership Award by the Women’s Lawyers Association of Michigan for her outstanding legal, leadership and mentoring skills in the community.  Ms. Breen was selected as one of the Top Ten Family Law Attorneys in Michigan in 2014 and 2015 by the National Academy of Family Law Attorneys (NAFLA).   She was recognized as being among the Top Ten Family Law Attorneys as selected by The American Institute of Family Law Attorneys (AIFLA) for 2014, 2015, and 2016.

Ms. Breen has received a Certificate of Completion in the area of Family Law issued by the Institute of Continuing Legal Education and the Family Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan.

A Bride on a Budget

The average cost of a wedding today can be tens of thousands of dollars, and I think it’s safe to say that this average is one people would be happy to be below. In today’s day and age the concept of a Bride on a budget is a very popular one. Maybe you’re getting married during or right out of college and have limited funds. Perhaps you’re saving up for a home, or for children, and don’t see the average price tag as a possibility. Whichever the hundreds of possible reasons it could be, if you are trying to save money on your wedding, you are not alone. We have put together a list of things to keep in mind when on a budget, and a few tips that might help save a little money.

• One of the most important things to do is set a firm budget, and stick to it. It is easy to decide you want to keep the price tag on your wedding low, but it is another thing to make it happen. You should pick a number you are comfortable with spending ahead of time, then do your research on what and where you will need to spend. Without a budget, you will for sure end up spending more than you wanted.

• Don’t automatically dismiss using vendors for DIY (do it yourself) projects. Often when on a budget the first thing that comes to mind is forgoing using vendors for services, and replacing them with DIY projects. While DIY can help in the saving department, they can also end up hurting your wallet. While spending the money necessary to complete some of these projects, you may accidentally spend more than you would have if you had used a vendor. Business owners in the wedding industry understand that most couples are looking to stay on a budget, and many will be able to work with you and your price tag to make your day fabulous. Smith Floral in Lansing is a great example. They are known for working with any budget, and not turning away brides.

• Look for vendors that offer packages, or more than one service. Often, they will offer deals or discounts if you use them for more than one service.

• Keep the guest list more intimate. By having less people at your wedding, you will ultimately have a smaller price tag. Invite only those you are closest too, and if there are others that you wish to celebrate with but just don’t make the cut think about having a larger reception, or party at a later date once you have saved a bit more.

Have your wedding on a less popular day of the week. Usually venues and such will be less expensive on less popular days of the week (NOT SATURDAYS). Try having your wedding on a Sunday, or weekday. Go for an afternoon instead of evening to further lower the cost.

• Have a longer engagement. By extending the engagement period you will have more time to save money and do more research on better deals.

• Consider asking for wedding help instead of gifts.
Instead registering, ask your friends and family if they might like to make donations toward your wedding. Also, if you are looking to find ways to help fund your honeymoon, there are sites you can register with that will allow people to give money toward that instead of gifts.

• Try not to stress over the very small details!
Things like cocktail napkins or signs aren’t going to make or break your wedding. Concentrate on the big-ticket items, like food, music, etc. Instead of trying to get it to look just like the Pinterest picture you saw.

• Don’t immediately count out a DJ.
Often times the DJ doesn’t just play music. They are responsible for things like making announcements and keeping the party going. Without a DJ to do this, those responsibilities will fall on one of your guests, or even yourself. And that might not be what you want them, or yourself, to focus on. Just like other vendors, DJs understand budgets and can work with you.

• Check the LBA newsletter for coupons!
We send out a newsletter each month to brides and sometimes they will contain a coupon from one of our vendors!

A wedding on a budget may feel impossible, or stressful at the least, but it doesn’t have to be. There are so many ways these days to save money on a wedding and hopefully these tips and suggestions will help you to make your wedding’s price tag as beautiful as your special day.

Written by LBA Intern: Kelsey Reitzloff

A Brides Guide to Tipping Wedding Vendors $$$

Should you, or should you not tip your wedding vendor? This is an interesting question and one asked by many brides.

1. Some of you may think you are not required to tip the people who serviced your wedding—and you are certainly right. But this is voluntary and done with discretion where tipping is allowed. Also, find out if a gratuity is included in your vendor contract so there are no misunderstandings.

2. You can assign your wedding coordinator, the best man or woman—to give out tips. They can be prepared in envelopes and delivered after your wedding. This frees you and your new spouse from having to worry about it.

3. You can give a vendor a corsage or boutonniere to wear. All vendors should be given a thank you card, and pictures (for their website where applicable). Ask for business cards and refer them to your friends and family. The Lansing Bridal Association always appreciates honest feedback and referrals for their award-winning efforts!

Who you should tip:

Vendor Amount When to Tip
Hairstylist & Make-Up Artist 15% – 20%  At the end of the service
Wedding Transportation 10% – 15% of your total bill At the end of the night or after the last ride.
Bartenders 10% – 15% of your total bill

(make sure to check your contract to make sure it wasn’t already included.)

At the end of the night
Alter boys or girls $10 – $15 each
Valet Parking Attendants $1 – $2 per car

(can give more if they are getting cars in bad weather, such as snow or rain)

Waitstaff

 15% –20 % of the food and drink fee

(again, check to make sure this wasn’t already covered in your contract)

At the end of the night you can give it to the matre d’
Restroom and/or Coatroom Attendants

$1 – $2 per guest

(may be included in venue contract)

Officiant Donate $50 – $150 to the church or synagog, and it is optional to tip the officiant directly an additional $50-$100.

Who is optional to tip:

Vendor Amount When to tip
Business Owners Your discretion You don’t have to tip the owner of a business, unless you believe that they have gone beyond the call of duty, and you’d like to show then your appreciation.
Ceremony or Reception Musicians $15-$25 per musician At the end of the night (or service if they are only there for part of the day)
DJ’s $50 – $150 I have made this one bold because if your DJ is the company owner, it is optional to tip them. However, if your DJ works for the company (but is not the owner) it is generally preferred to give them a tip.
Photography and Videographer $50 – $200 Same as DJ’s. If the photographer/videographer owns the company, tipping is considered optional. If you were happy with their service it is nice (and appreciated) gesture to send a thank you note.
Florist Not necessary, but you can tip the delivery staff and/or set-up staff.

$10 – $15 per person.

Wedding Cake Delivery/Set-up $5 – $10 per person
Wedding Coordinator $50
Wedding Planner 15% or a personal gift At the end of the night
Banquet, Catering Manager or
Maitre D’
$200+ At the end of the night

I NEVER expect a tip. I’ve gotten tipped a handful of times, and every time I was surprised. My goal is to give my clients the best possible service I can; with or without a tip. I just want their wedding day to be as stress-free (on my end) as possible and to give them a physical representation of memories that will last forever. I love getting handwritten thank you notes from couples!

Amber Johnston

Photographer - Owner, Amber J Photography LLC

Written by Cheryl Jiminez (with inspiration from Amber Johnston; owner of Amber J Photography LLC)
Choose Excellence – Choose The Lansing Bridal Association!

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Is Someone in Your Wedding Party Blue?

Alice (bride-to-be) and her friend Carrie—went wedding gown shopping. Alice knew her friend would give sound advice and was eager to help her—find her dream dress. Instead, it turned into an embarassing disagreement over every dress. Alice later found out that the trip brought back memories to Carrie about a wedding proposal she expected, but never got.

It is quite natural for friends (and even family) to feel separate and sometimes—a bit envious of you. Some singles in your wedding party may feel like—what I call— “inflatable” bridesmaids and groomsmen. They may secretly say to themselves, “I’m so tired of NOT getting married?”

Social media has made it easier to be updated and share (and “over-share”) details about the upcoming wedding. However, this can make things worse at times when others may not be so happy for you—or—who you chose to marry. (Some may get on social media and boldly proclaim it).

It is tempting to react to online “rants” and other distressing words or pictures. Keep your important tasks in front of you and try to stay calm. We all have disagreeable moments and opinions, but— this is your wedding—not theirs.

  • If you know that someone in your wedding party is putting on a “brave face” and it is difficult them; talk it out if possible. “Over involving” [certain people] with such things as wedding gown shopping etc, —may be a bit much. It’s better to be honest, than to have friendships or other relationships ruined.
  • Some bridesmaids, groomsmen, or family members—may be stretched financially and are simply too embarrassed to admit it. Things like choosing wedding attire that they can wear again is trendy and welcoming to many.
  • If you can before your wedding, you and your spouse-to-be can schedule group events. It can include an activity that makes your wedding party (and family members) feel appreciated and special. A relaxing time at Fahrenheit Massage, and sporting events such as The Lansing Lugnuts, can be calming for the them (and you). The event planners and venues in the Lansing Bridal Association have ideas that can make rehearsal dinners and showers great places to “mix and mingle” as well.
  • Besides the traditional garter and bridal bouquet toss at your wedding, you may opt to have a special “mini ceremony” for single guests. You could present them each with a small gift or even a flower. (I did that at my wedding).

Above all, hopefully your friends and family know they are not losing you, but gaining another part of you—sharing in your happiness—especially those anticipating their own wedding!

Let the Lansing Bridal Association assist you with your wedding needs. They are industry-leading professionals dedicated to making your special day a success and one to remember.

Choose Excellence – Choose the Lansing Bridal Association

Written by Cheryl Jiminez

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Guest Blogger: Beyond The Dress – Thinking Through the Financials

YOU HAVE THE RIGHT THE BEAU; YOU WENT TO THE BRIDAL SHOW; BUT DO YOU HAVE THE RIGHT FINANCIAL PLAN?

You have likely traveled throughout the state of Michigan to attend bridal shows and/or to find the right dress. But have you considered what to do with your assets now that you are planning to wed? Most people spend more time and money planning their wedding than protecting their valuable assets from dissolution. Do you need a prenuptial agreement? Some people do not need a prenuptial agreement; however, some people may have assets of a significant value that should be protected, if possible. Since you spent so much time and effort on planning the wedding, why not take a few moments to protect valuable assets from division should the marriage end?

Separate vs Joint Assets

The minute the vows are complete and the marriage is legal, every dollar earned or lost during that marriage is shared evenly, or 50 cents on the dollar per spouse. There are, however, assets/debts that may qualify as separate property and may also qualify as a separate asset, if the marriage should end. To qualify as separate assets/debts, the property must have existed before the marriage and not have been comingled with other martial assets.

For example, if, before the marriage, there were stock investments or bank accounts, those assets should remain separate assets, as long as those accounts existed separately throughout the marriage and there were no contributions of money earned during the marriage into those accounts. If it can be shown that those accounts remained separate from the marital assets, those assets may remain separate and most likely not be divided by the courts between the parties. Martial money contributed to invest into a house owned before the marriage without any debt, for example, may take the property out of the separate property category.

Another example, especially for second, third, fourth…. marriages and/or minor children from past relationships, would you want to protect your pensions, 401ks, and/or other retirement accounts from division? You may want to keep those assets separate, if they existed before the current marriage, to ensure that marital monies are not commingled to make that asset a marital asset to be divided if the current marriage should end. The interest and passive growth on those investments during the marriage will most likely be split with your spouse, if the asset was commingled with marital assets. Your children may be disinherited as well from receiving those assets.

Don’t Dread a Pre-Nup

Your preexisting financial assets can be protected with a prenuptial agreement. To accurately evaluate whether you should protect your assets with a prenuptial agreement, you will need to consult with an attorney. An attorney can review the evidence and advise you, based on the information provided, whether the asset is likely or not likely to be a martial asset or debt or whether a prenuptial agreement will benefit your estate.

Torree J. Breen is the chair of the Family Law Practice Group and is a member of the firm’s Litigation Group.  She also serves as Secretary on the firm’s Board of Directors.  Ms. Breen specializes in family law, divorce, child custody disputes, no-fault litigation, insurance coverage, and handicapped accessible housing coverage.  In 2016, Ms. Breen was awarded a Regional Leadership Award by the Women’s Lawyers Association of Michigan for her outstanding legal, leadership and mentoring skills in the community.  Ms. Breen was selected as one of the Top Ten Family Law Attorneys in Michigan in 2014 and 2015 by the National Academy of Family Law Attorneys (NAFLA).   She was recognized as being among the Top Ten Family Law Attorneys as selected by The American Institute of Family Law Attorneys (AIFLA) for 2014, 2015, and 2016.

Ms. Breen has received a Certificate of Completion in the area of Family Law issued by the Institute of Continuing Legal Education and the Family Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan.

Before—Here Comes the Bride: Here Comes the Contracts

Many of us have signed numerous contracts during our daily lives; but who really reads them?  With increased online technology—it is even easier to choose: “agree to our terms,” “Opt-in,” Opt-out,” and other prompts so that we can just click and get on with our lives!  But reading and understanding contracts you may be signing for one of the biggest events in your life—your wedding—is important.
Marta Brown, owner of The Northfork Estate wedding venue says that, “Brides and grooms need to know what they are signing and that they should ask questions—so that things can be clear.”

Consider for a moment the types of contracts you may encounter for your wedding:

• The wedding venue
• DJ (or other wedding music)
• Photography/Videography
• Reception venue (if different from wedding venue)
• Catering
• Wedding coordinator/Event planning services
• Limousine, horse-drawn carriage, or other transportation services
• Flowers, decorations, etc
• Your wedding gown/veil order, customization, bridal party, and/or fittings
• Your hair stylist (yes—they have one too!)
• Tuxedo rental
• Honeymoon services
• Live animal guests (such as doves)
• Personal legal matters (pertaining to you as a couple)
• Anything else (including a sign trailing behind an airplane above the couple!)

This can be a “mind boggling” trying to sifting through services, terms, and conditions.   Here are a few things to look for so that you can navigate through contracts that protect both the wedding couple and the vendor:

   Know if you are dealing with reputable wedding vendors. The Lansing Bridal Association (LBA) is a group of wedding professionals who abide by a code of ethics. This important distinction—along with the website which groups vendors by specific category can save you time and effort. They also refer each other so that you don’t feel overwhelmed in finding what you need.

√   Bring the contract home to study it, or go online to view it (if you can) before you sign.

√   Most wedding contracts require a deposit. Check to see what happens to it if you have a life-changing event or postpone your wedding.

√   Know the rules about: fireworks, designated parking, smoking, and other things that may or may not be allowed.

√   Above all, contracts are legally binding. Read the fine print!

Chris and Mary Holmes, owners of the Bridge Street Wedding Chapel say, “We want our couples to know exactly what they are signing—and we ask for an initial after each section of our contract for clarity.”


Want more information about contracts and your legal rights?  Visit www.willinghamcote.com  This group of legal experts with over 50 years of experience—has recently partnered with the Lansing Bridal Association.  Look for more articles from them in our future blog posts!

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Choose Excellence – Choose the Lansing Bridal Association
Written by: Cheryl Jiminez

Featured Vendor: The Northfork Estate

The Northfork Estate is a beautiful venue located in Eaton Rapids, Michigan. With their private ponds, majestic landscaping, winding road and natural meadows, it is a gorgeous and tranquil location for your wedding. The Northfork Estate is a full service venue, complete with a fire pit, pavilion and patio.

Marta Brown, owner of The Northfork Estate, took a few minutes to answer some questions about her venue.

Please tell us about your business. What services are you able to provide for brides and weddings?

The Northfork Estate is your Elegant~Distinctive Wedding Venue. Located in the only Eaton Rapids on Earth, The Northfork Estate is as unique as the town itself. We host only one event per day. This ensures private use of the entire 50-acre Estate for each couple and their guests. Tables, chairs and white linens are included for up to 300 guests. We also include golf cart shuttle service, set up and tear down services. At The Northfork Estate, we specialize in making your wedding day Elegant~Distinctive and Yours! Therefore, you can hire your own caterers and additional vendors or we can help assist you in selecting some of the most reputable companies in Mid-Michigan . We have wonderful vendor recommendations and are glad to assist in any or all of your planning.

 

Why does your business like working with brides, or at weddings?

At The Northfork Estate, our number one goal is for the couple to have the wedding of their dreams. Our philosophy is that we have had our wedding and we feel all our couples should get the wedding of their dreams not our dreams! It is wonderful to be involved throughout the process of planning and especially on the day of the big event! It thrills us every time to see the new couple announced and take the dance floor for the first time!

What can your business provide to brides or weddings that is unique from competitors?

Our entire venue is Elegant~Distinctive. From the life sized commissioned bronze horse and the wrought iron gates, which was commissioned exclusively for the Estate in Virginia, to the winding road that leads to the Grand Reception Hall, each and every section of the Estate was created with Love. The seven natural ponds perfectly positioned throughout the property, a pavilion and several Flagstone patios are just some of the beautiful additions to the 50 acres of sculpted landscaping.

Do you have any bridal, group, or special wedding discounts?

We offer Sunday to Friday pricing along with Saturday pricing. We offer two incentives per year following each of the bridal shows we attend in September and January.

What else do you want to share or want brides to know about your business? What kind of message are you looking for brides to understand about your business?

The Northfork Estate is a family run business. At the Northfork Estate we love seeing the light in the eyes of the newly married couple and knowing that we are a part of that very special day.

Are there any special offers you’d like to make brides aware of?

If you book between now and July 31, 2017 we will honor our 2017 pricing for 2018 or 2019. This is a $1000.00 Savings!

A Real Bride Talks about Her Upcoming Wedding

We spoke to a real bride, and asked her to share her wedding planning experience with us!

 

Interviewed by: Haley Abbas

(We are concealing the bride’s identity to protect the not-so-innocent)

 

What is your main wedding stress?

The guest list. Worrying about who to invite, and if the people you don’t invite— worrying about offending them. My wedding feels more about trying to accommodate everyone else instead of myself and my future husband.

What is displeasing you about your wedding party?

Their lack of involvement in my wedding planning. I feel like they don’t know how much they are supposed to help me, and what things they are supposed to do.

If you could change certain plans, what would you change and why?

I would probably make it a smaller wedding. When you first get engaged you are excited and you tell everyone about it, and make a lot of promises to invite them. Then when you sit down and see how much everything is going to cost per person, you really start to rethink things. I think it’s okay to be excited about your wedding and to tell people, but you shouldn’t feel obligated to invite them just because you shared with them your excitement about getting married.

What would make you most happy about your wedding day?

If everyone got along (especially my wedding party) and there was no drama. Also, if everything went as scheduled and planned.

What is your biggest fear for your wedding day?

That an uninvited guest will show up. Or, that the florist or caterer will mess something up that cannot be fixed. My wedding has a ton of floral arrangements in it. I must have met with my florist a hundred times now detailing exactly how I want everything. You only get to live this day once, and you invest a lot of time and money into it. So, is it wrong that I want everything to go perfectly?

How are you managing stress the month before your wedding?

By constantly finalizing everything with my vendors. This is crunch time now and even though all the big details are finalized, there is still a hundred minor details that I need to finish. Right now, I am currently trying to figure out what to put under my centerpieces at my wedding; something extremely minor, but still important to complete the overall look. I feel like a wedding is just about a thousand different little details—all coming together to make one big event.

We would like to thank our bride for taking the time to be so candid with us. We wish her all the best with her wedding!

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