The Greatest Love Letter of All Time

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Last night, a great story from Huffington Post Weddings popped up on my Facebook newsfeed, and I just had to share it. It contains two love notes written by Johnny Cash to his beloved June. {Warning: you may want to grab a hankie!} According to the article, "A 1994 note he penned for his wife and musical partner June Carter Cash on her 65th birthday was recently named the greatest love letter of all time in a poll conducted by the British life insurance company Beagle Street."

The letter reads:

o-HOUSE-OF-CASH-2-570 Happy Birthday Princess,      We get old and get used to each other. We think alike. We read each others [sic] minds. We know what the other wants without asking. Sometimes we irritate each other a little bit. Maybe sometimes take each other for granted.      But once in awhile, like today, I meditate on it and realize how lucky I am to share my life with the greatest woman I ever met. You still fascinate and inspire me. You influence me for the better. You’re the object of my desire, the #1 Earthly reason for my existence. I love you very much.

     Happy Birthday Princess.      - John

{SWOON!!}

The note was featured, along with others, in the 2011 book House Of Cash, written by the couple's son John Carter Cash.

So with Valentine's Day just around the corner, if you are looking for some love-note inspiration, look no farther than the Man In Black.

Unique Photo Booth for Jacksonville Weddings

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moon booth Jacksonville photo booth

Are you looking for something other than the typical photo booth for your wedding? When Ann Meyer LeFiles, publisher of Premier Bride of Northeast Florida, got married last fall, she wanted to incorporate historical touches into her wedding. And she came up with an amazing idea for the reception - not just a photo booth, but a Moon Booth! How romantic is this?

What's even cooler is that her parents made this moon - you read that right, they MADE it! But what makes this idea really awesome is that your parents don't have to be this creative - you can rent the Moon Booth for your Jacksonville wedding. Want to reserve it for your big day? Email ann@premierbridenefl.com.

Photos by Bec Photography.

It's Our 12th Anniversary!

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Tomorrow marks the 12th anniversary for First Coast Weddings and Events, so we thought we'd share some ideas for 12th anniversary gifts! The traditional gifts are silk and linen. What a great chance to do a little redecorating?

silk drapes Pottery Barn

Beautiful dupioni silk drapes from Pottery Barn

monogrammed tablecloth Pottery Barn

Monogrammed linen tablecloth, also from Pottery Barn

The modern gift for a 12th anniversary is the pearl. A Southern favorite! What girl wouldn't love a new pearl necklace or pair of earrings?

Pearl diamond earrings

Pearl and diamond earrings from Jared

Pearl necklace Jared

Pearl and diamond necklace, also from Jared

What would you like to receive on your anniversary?

Southern Wedding Traditions

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Grooms Cake Jacksonville FL Wedding We're off to Savannah this weekend for the Premier Wedding Expo, so I thought I'd share a few wedding traditions popular in the South:

  • Groom's Cakes: A lot of our clients from other parts of the country haven't even heard of groom's cakes, let alone thought of having one. The groom's cake is supposed to represent the groom's talents or hobbies. Or favorite sports team, which is very popular! (The cake pictured above was from Jenna and Andy's wedding last year.)
  • Pearls: They aren't just jewelry! Although it's popular for brides (and all the women at the wedding!) to wear pearls, they have also made their way into the invitations, the centerpieces, and even the cake!
  • Food: Let's face it y'all. The South is pretty well known for it's scrumptious cuisine. When you attend a Southern wedding, you'll be fed, and fed well.
  • Burying the Bourbon: This one isn't seen quite as often, because many ceremony venues have an issue with you digging up their lawn. But the concept is to bury a full bottle of bourbon upside down at the ceremony site to ward off rain. After the ceremony, dig it up and enjoy it with your guests!
  • Monograms: Yes, Southerners love to monogram anything that will stand still. Just remember, a monogram incorporating both the bride and groom's initials plus their new last name initial shouldn't be used until after the I Do's - it's bad luck!

Wedding Website Tips

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Classic-Rose-smallThese days, almost every wedding has its own website. It's a great way to share information with your guests! Here are some tips for making your wedding website great:

  • Purchase an easy-to-remember domain. For example, MikeAndSarah.com is something you can even use in the future as a blog to keep your friends and family updated on your new house, growing family, etc. When selecting a domain, remember the shorter the better - this will need to be printed on your save-the-dates and invitation enclosure cards.
  • Include hotel information. Hopefully you've set up room blocks at two or three nearby hotels, so be sure to include booking instructions and rates. Also include the hotel's direct phone number and address; if your guests are like me, they'll want to add this information to their phones!
  • Also include travel information. Many cities have multiple airports, so let your guests know which one is most convenient. If your hotel offers airport transportation, include this information as well.
  • Share the weekend schedule. If you are planning a great welcome party, you won't want your guests to miss it by booking a late flight. This also gives your guests a chance to plan sightseeing activities if they haven't visited the area.
  • Feature some of your favorite nearby restaurants, shops and attractions. Provide links and a map, if possible, as well as hours of operation, and why you love these places.
  • Include links to your registries. This makes it easy for your guests to find this information, should they choose to send a gift.
  • Remember that not everyone is online 24/7. Be sure to send hard copies of important information to any of your guests that aren't tech-savvy.

Welcome Bags for Out-Of-Town Wedding Guests

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Bow Tie Bags Wedding Welcome BagsIt's that time of year when we're busy getting welcome bags/boxes ready for our spring weddings! We get a lot of questions about what goes inside these little packages. The most common items are:

  • Bottled water.  An absolute must!
  • Snacks.  Something salty, something sweet, and perhaps something with a local flair. (More on this below.)
  • Information about the area.  Contact the local visitors' bureau or chamber of commerce, and they will be more than happy to send you brochures and maybe even coupons!
  • Information about the wedding.  If you have an action-packed weekend planned, include an itinerary and maps/directions if transportation isn't being provided.
  • Contact information.  Assign a local friend to act as your concierge for the weekend to help with last minute questions from your guests.

From the basics, you can upgrade to include bottles of wine, personalized toiletry items like lotion or bubble bath, even slippers!  If you are planning a beach wedding, perhaps a pair of flip flops and bottle of sunscreen.  For a garden wedding, a lovely hat. Just remember that your guests will have to pack these items for their trip home, or leave them behind.

When our brides ask us for "regional" favorites, we suggest:

  • Peterbrooke chocolates
  • Florida oranges
  • Boiled peanuts
  • Datil pepper sauce
  • San Sebastian wines

Sound like a lot of work? If you aren't working with a wedding planner who offers this service, check out Bow Tie Bags - you can customize your bag and its contents, and they will ship them directly to the hotel. (The photo above is one of their creations!)

Custom Calligraphy & Watercolor Wedding Maps

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mapsofthemoment We are so thrilled with our bride, Sarah Jo, for introducing us to her friend Catherine Woodward! Catherine creates stunning wedding maps using ink and watercolor, and each one is custom-created featuring the information you provide. This can include the ceremony and reception location, area landmarks, and even the spot where you got engaged!

We love the idea of using these maps in your welcome bags. But it will also be a stunning piece of art for your home! Check out Catherine's Etsy shop, Maps Of The Moment, for more examples of her work. But hurry if you want one - Catherine starts her med school residency in mid-May, and will have to put her love of creating art on hold for a bit.

Here's a little bit more about Catherine's story:

I started painting and drawing when I was little, but kind of over did it in high school - I took lots of classes and got totally burnt out. I think I took a single class in college, and then for about 7 years I only painted once... I just didn't have time and didn't really want to.

Then I became a fourth year medical student, and went from having no free time to actually having a pretty good deal of it. So, for the first time in years, I did a series of acrylic and news-print cityscapes for a friend...then other friends started requesting things and pretty soon I had done about 15 works.

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One painting - the house below - got put on Instagram by my friend. His friend saw it and she reached out to me to see if i would be willing to draw a map of all the venues in her wedding.

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I had never done anything like it, but it seemed like it would be a really fun project... so I bought watercolors (which I hadn't worked with in years and years), and just started sketching. The first one was REALLY just like a hope-this-works sort of thing! And she loved it!

I will be a bridesmaid in a bunch of weddings this year, so I did more of them as gifts for the brides. Each piece got such positive feedback and were such a special gift! Then finally, I showed my boyfriend's mom who really has to be credited for the Etsy idea.

I was really hesitant at first, but I had enough time and I really LOVE making them, so one random morning I finally made a shop. I sent the link out to my close friends and they sent it out to their friends, and it has just taken off!! It has just been the most awesome thing! I'll get requests from all over the country and I get to learn about all these cities. People get so excited about them and that for me is the coolest part.

I'm obviously looking forward to starting residency but it'll be sad to take a break from this. However, they say that after the first two years, you get a lot more free time, so I'm hoping I can always have this as a hobby!

Pinterest Is Not Your Wedding Planner

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Pinterest Is Not Your Wedding Planner

We've been hearing a lot of comments lately along the lines of "I don't need a wedding planner, I have Pinterest!" And while Pinterest can be a handy tool, it definitely should not replace any wedding professional - planner, florist, photographer, cake baker, or otherwise.

We wrote a blog post back in 2012 about the dangers of the Pinterest/DIY wedding movement. But we thought we'd point out a few things that we've noticed over the past year as Pinterest has gained popularity.

1. Don't become pin-happy. You may have 10 different boards with 10 different themes. Which is great, if you are comparing the options. But don't expect to merge those 10 themes into one wedding. Pick one, and stick with it. It's easy to become overwhelmed with all the options. Plus, not every idea is feasible for your venue or time of year. Don't just pin for the sake of pinning.

2. Don't just copy everything. Make it your own. Everything on Pinterest has been done already, that's why there are photos of it. Your wedding should be a unique reflection of you as a couple, not what it popular or trendy. Ask yourself if that pin is something you really need/want, and does it make sense?

3.  Keep your boards private. Now that Pinterest has this option, use it. Share only with those who really matter - otherwise, you'll get input from so many people, you won't know what you want anymore. (Plus, isn't it fun for your guests to be surprised at your wedding?)

4. Photos can be unrealistic. As I mentioned in my previous blog post, styled or inspiration shoots are not real weddings. And in most cases, there is no way to actually recreate a majority of those looks for a wedding of 150 people. For a real-life look at Pinterest inspiration vs. reality, check out this great blog post called "Why Pinterest Gave Me Unrealistic Expections For Wedding Photos."

5. A Pinterest board cannot be there on the day of your wedding. Makeup artist Paulina Perez recently shared a story about a bride who spent hours crying on her wedding day because her mom was missing out on all the special moments that happened while she was getting ready. Her mom was at the reception venue, setting up all those DIY projects, and all the other things a wedding planner might be doing. "It was heart breaking," Paulina said. "You knew the mother was not there because she was too busy trying to make the venue look perfect for her daughter, but all the bride could think of is 'how could my mom not be here?' It was a lose-lose situation on both parts."

Pinterest is great for showing your team of wedding professionals what you like. Just be sure to edit your ideas and hire pros to make them happen!

Pantone Announces 2014 Color of the Year: Radiant Orchid

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Pantone 2014 Color Of The Year

Yesterday, Pantone announced the 2014 Color of the Year: Radiant Orchid. According to the press release,

"Radiant Orchid blooms with confidence and magical warmth that intrigues the eye and sparks the imagination. It is an expressive, creative and embracing purple—one that draws you in with its beguiling charm. A captivating harmony of fuchsia, purple and pink undertones, Radiant Orchid emanates great joy, love and health."

If you don't work in a design-related industry, you might wonder what the heck the "color of the year" is exactly.

"For more than a decade, Pantone’s Color of the Year has influenced product development and purchasing decisions in multiple industries, including fashion, home and industrial design, as well as product packaging and graphic design."

pantone radiant orchid bridesmaid dress

So next year, as you are strolling through the mall and see lots of this color everywhere, think back to this blog post and say, "Ahh, I get it!"

The photo on the right is an example of a bridesmaid's dress from Dessy in Radiant Orchid. Will you incorporate this color into your wedding? Share your ideas in the comments section!

A Great Father-Daughter Dance Song: "Cinderella" by Steven Curtis Chapman

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father-daughter dance Are you looking for a unique father-daughter dance song? I heard Steven Curtis Chapman's song, "Cinderella" on the radio the other day and absolutely loved the idea of using it for this special moment between a bride and her dad.

You can check out the video here, and here are the lyrics:

She spins and she sways To whatever song plays Without a care in the world And I'm sitting here wearing The weight of the world on my shoulders

It's been a long day And there's still work to do She's pulling at me Saying "Dad, I need you

There's a ball at the castle And I've been invited And I need to practice my dancing Oh, please, Daddy, please?"

So I will dance with Cinderella While she is here in my arms 'Cause I know something the prince never knew Oh, I will dance with Cinderella I don't want to miss even one song 'Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight And she'll be gone...

She says he's a nice guy and I'd be impressed She wants to know if I approve of the dress She says, "Dad, the prom is just one week away And I need to practice my dancing Oh, please, Daddy, please?"

So I will dance with Cinderella While she is here in my arms 'Cause I know something the prince never knew Oh, I will dance with Cinderella I don't want to miss even one song 'Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight And she'll be gone

She will be gone

Well, she came home today with a ring on her hand Just glowing and telling us all they had planned She says, "Dad, the wedding's still six months away But I need to practice my dancing Oh, please, Daddy, please?"

So I will dance with Cinderella While she is here in my arms 'Cause I know something the prince never knew Oh, I will dance with Cinderella I don't want to miss even one song 'Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight And she'll be gone

Multi-Cultural Wedding Tips

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ChuppahI had the pleasure of attending the Association of Bridal Consultants' Central Florida East luncheon yesterday. The guest speaker was Yehudit Steinberg, the founder of the Jewish Interfaith Wedding Network. She specializes in creating ceremonies blending religions and cultures, incorporating both families' traditions and beliefs. Yehudit shared some tips that you may want to consider when planning an interfaith wedding.

1. Don't rush. Long engagements aren't a bad thing, especially when it comes to blending two cultures or religions. You'll want to explore your families' traditions, and decide as a couple which traditions to incorporate into your wedding, and your marriage.

2. Open communication. Encourage your families to be a part of your wedding preparations, especially in terms of the ceremony.

3. Address ceremony options first. Especially when you are considering marrying in a house of worship, you will want to secure the date with your officiants before planning any other aspects of the wedding.  In other words, don't book your reception venue and then find out it's Yom Kippur and no rabbi will marry you!

Be sure to visit the Jewish Interfaith Wedding Network website for more great information!

Valentine's Day Ideas for Engaged and Newlywed Couples

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bowling valentineValentine's Day is next week! And as an engaged or newly married couple, you may not have the resources for a romantic getaway or extravagant dinner. Here are some ideas to make your day special! 1. Have a picnic lunch. If your offices are nearby, why not sneak away for a long lunch at a park? (This is great for us in sunny Florida, but this may not be an option for other parts of the country. How about an indoor picnic after work?)

2. Buy a case of wine. But no, don't drink it all on Valentine's Day! Label each bottle with an event you will share in the future - such as "the birth of our first child" or "our first fight as a married couple." But don't forget to label one "Valentine's Day 2013!"

3. Cook a romantic dinner at home. But rather than one person doing all the work, one of you can cook the main course while the other does the appetizers and dessert. Check out Pinterest or AllRecipes.com for some menu ideas!

4. Personally deliver flowers. Anyone can call an 800-number and order flowers. But it's much more special if you visit a local florist and buy some loose blooms. Then surprise your special someone at work with a personal delivery!

5. Go bowling. Ok, I know what you're thinking. Bowling isn't exactly the way most people want to spend Valentine's. But guess who does? My sweetie. He bowls every Thursday night (actually Wednesdays and Thursdays), and since Valentine's Day falls on a Thursday this year, guess where he'll be? Not that I mind - I'm a fan of showing love and appreciation every day, not just one day a year! But guess what? I might just go hang out at the bowling alley next Thursday night. ♥

image source

What is a House Party?

I know. You're asking yourself, "Isn't that what we had in college? Or for the Super Bowl?"

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Well, the term "house party" actually applies to weddings too! With Florida being in "the South" but not always truly "Southern," you may not have heard this term before. Your house party is usually made up of women that you want to honor, but may not be close enough to be bridesmaids. For example, a college roommate you aren't that close to anymore, the groom's sister, or your twelve cousins.

Here are some facts about house party girls:

  • They don't stand at the alter during the ceremony, but they have seats of honor in front.
  • They may have "jobs" during the wedding: reader, guest book attendant, handing out programs, etc.
  • They don't wear the same dresses as the bridesmaids; they choose their own dress, making it much more affordable! (Often they wear a Little Black Dress)
  • They take part in all the pre-wedding festivities, such as showers, bachelorette parties, and getting-ready photos.
  • The bride gives them a small gift, similar to the bridesmaids, to thank them for their help.
  • It's a beautiful gesture to give them a corsage or hair flower to designate them as someone special on the wedding day.

What a great way to honor these special women without having 20 ladies in your bridal party! There can also be men in the house party - usually they are ushers at the ceremony, and will have similar seats of honor. They may were tuxedos, but often wear suits with boutonnieres.

(photo source)

Customizing Your Wedding With Monograms

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Monograms sure have changed in the past few years! No longer are they just the traditional 3-letter merging of your names. In fact, many couples choose to "brand" their wedding using their full names and wedding date. Here are a few fun examples from our new collection, available for our full-service planning clients to use:

If you want to design your own monogram, remember that traditionally, the woman's name comes first. Also, you may want to consider a style that you can use after the wedding.

Lastly, it's still considered taboo to use the couples' new surname on any printed materials until after the wedding - so if you will be using your "branding" on save-the-dates and invitations, use only your first initials or names. If you want to add your last name, leave it on the reception items only.

Not Your Parents' Wedding Invitation

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Wow, there are so many cool wedding invitations available today! If you haven't noticed, they no longer have to be white or ecru with black text. (Although who can go wrong with a classic?) If you're looking for some modern alternatives, check out a few that we found over at Wedding Paper Divas:

Pssst.... wanna know a secret? Our anniversary celebration continues! Our brides can get a special discount of 25% off at Wedding Paper Divas! Contact us more information - this offer expires at the end of November.

Custom-Tailored Shirts and Ties For Your Groom and Groomsmen

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The rented tux is pretty standard for weddings. On occasion, it might be a suit instead. But men's attire doesn't vary that much from wedding to wedding. Have you considered having the dress shirts custom-tailored to go with the rental?

For the grooms, this is a great way to have a special memento of the wedding day. And did you know that a special fabric can be sewn to the under-side of the cuffs, so that we you're out there dancing and rolling up your sleeves, you have a stylish surprise! Or check out the groom in the photo - he and his groomsmen all wore these great Gator shirts under their Air Force uniforms.

As a special touch, have his monogram embroidered on the cuff.

If you can't afford to buy custom shirts for all the groomsmen, think about having ties custom-made. Not only is that a great way to get the exact color or print you are looking for, but it's a great groomsman gift.

Whether buying shirts for all the groomsmen or just the groom, you'll need accurate measurements. There are also a variety of fits and collar types, and your tailor should be able to help you make selections based on body type. There are also fabric choices - not only in color but also thread count. Similar to buying sheets, higher thread counts tend to be softer.

A top-notch tailor will help you through all these decisions. If you are in Jacksonville, we recommend that you visit The Tailor Shop for expert guidance.

DIY Wedding Maps

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Chances are, you'll need a map to include with your wedding invitations. If you are having your invitations custom designed, you graphic artist will probably create one for you. But what if you aren't? There are lots of websites and artists that can create pretty maps for you. But did you know you can do it yourself? I didn't really believe it either, so I made one for our office location! Here's how it works... {Word of Caution: Don't rush this project! Give yourself plenty of time, and work on it over a few nights. If you lack patience, consider hiring someone instead.}

Step 1: Find your locations in Google Maps, Mapquest, Bing, or another online source. If you will have multiple locations, be sure to zoom out wide enough to show them all. You'll be tracing this map, so be sure you are happy with its size, zoom and position. Use Print Screen to capture the image.

Step 2: If you have access to a drawing program, like Adobe Illustrator, open it up and paste your map into a new drawing. If you don't have Illustrator, you can accomplish the same thing using Microsoft PowerPoint! Paste your image in a new slide to get started.

Step 3: Use the drawing tools to trace the main streets on your maps. If you are using PowerPoint, use the Curve tool to trace most roads. You can also adjust the thickness for major roads, and add text boxes to add labels. Remember, it doesn't need to be exact, as long as all the roads are where they should be. Once you have all the roads traced, delete the original Google map and check out your design!

Step 4: Add icons to your map for your ceremony and reception locations - Google "free wedding clipart" to find some cute images. You could also add rehearsal dinner locations, or any other places your guests will need to find.

Step 5: In PowerPoint, use the Select All command to select all the elements of your map. Once everything is selected, right click and choose the Save As Picture option. A dialogue window will open allowing you to save your map as an image file.  Depending on the size your printed map needs to be, it may be better to save the file as a PDF.

That's it! This is my finished product:

Not too bad for a couple hours work!

Bridal Shower Recipe Fun

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Letterpress Recipe Card BoxMy mom and I were recently visiting my 97-year-old Great Aunt Cora, and the conversation turned to cookies. Even at 97, Aunt Cora can still remember who preferred peanut butter and who preferred chocolate chip.  Each Christmas, she would make batches and batches of cookies, seal them into decorative tins, and give them as gifts. I never understood why I had to share a tin with my mom - but now as an adult, when I think of how many hours of baking that was, I get it! After cookies, we talked about other favorite family meals, and there was a slightly-heated discussion about who is in possession of Aunt Cora's invaluable recipe box. That conversation got me thinking - my generation, and those younger than me I'm sure, don't really treasure recipes. If we want to try something new for dinner, we turn to Google or AllRecipes.com, rather than a treasured family recipe box. So for your bridal shower, why not start your own?

How it works: Include a recipe card with the shower invitations. Be sure to include instructions for your guests to write down their favorite recipe and bring it with them to the party. You might want to write a meal type on the cards, so that you don't end up with all cookie recipes! If it is a small shower of mostly family, you may even want to ask each guest to bring their dish with them, pot-luck style.

My tip: Choose a recipe card that is blank on the back. Then ask each guest to write a little note with the origin of the recipe, a special memory of you, or a wish for you and your husband. I love the stylish letterpress recipe set shown here from OneCanoeTwo Letterpress on Etsy.

During the party, be sure to save time to ooh and aah over all the recipes in your collection!