March 2011 Archive

The Expert Files {Renting Vintage Furniture and Props}

Happy Wednesday everyone and welcome to another installment of The Expert Files! I am super stoked about today’s feature from adorable bride-to-be and business owner, Amanda Reapsummer. A one stop-shop for Northern California brides seeking vintage-inspired wedding decor, her biz One True Love Vintage Rentals has dozens and dozens of inventory items ready to satisfy your vintage-loving heart. Amanda’s love for old found items combined with her event planning background and her dwindling wedding budget is what really kick started her journey into collecting vintage treasures. After endless trips scouring flea market she figured why not rent out her collection of vintage treasures to save others from the headache of having to find pieces themselves. With that OTL was born and I have to say I adore her thinking! I sure could have used OTL during my wedding planning as a bride-to-be. That darling yellow ladder has left me feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. Read on my sweets!

{How can a client benefit from your services and what you have to offer?} There are two main benefits to working with One True Love Vintage Rentals when planning an event. First of all, you’re going to save time and money. Our number one goal is to give brides a convenient and affordable way to add one-of-a-kind pieces to their big day. Secondly, it takes the stress out of your wedding day. You don’t want to have to worry about renting a truck, transporting your rentals, setting them up and then returning them at the end of the night. Let us do that so you can sit back, relax and enjoy your wedding day!
{What types of items make up your inventory?} We have an extensive collection ranging from small decorative elements like skeleton keys and old medicine bottles to large furniture like tables and sofas. And many of our pieces are actually family heirlooms! My great uncles electric fan from the 1930s, my grandmother’s coffee grinder and copper kettle, and my dad’s wooden cathedral radio are just a few of those heirlooms. In terms of the items that are my fave, aside from my family heirlooms, which are near and dear to me, it’s a tie between my teal coat rack and my yellow ladder. The coat rack was my very first purchase after moving to San Francisco and the ladder is a one of a kind beauty from Loire Valley, France. I just can’t resist the fun pop of colour and character that they bring to a space.
{What are your main sources of inspiration?} My main inspiration comes from places filled to the brim with vintage wares like estate sales, flea markets and antique stores. What can I say, I love being surrounded by fabulous old stuff! I also get tons of inspiration from design and wedding blogs. I follow about 50 blogs and I’m constantly in awe of the beautiful ideas and images that I encounter daily.
{How can a DIY bride use vintage rentals to spice up her big day?} One True Love Vintage Rentals is a great resource for DIY brides who are looking to get creative and put their own spin on a classic. For example, maybe you have a fabulous homemade dessert table planned out. Why not use something like our rustic garden table or shabby chic vanity instead of a table to hold those homemade goodies? Or how about those guest favor bags that you spent weeks creating? Those would look great in our rustic wooden wagon. 
{How does the process typically work in terms of renting from OTL?} All of our inventory is viewable online and divided into categories so your first step should be to browse through our inventory and take note of specific pieces that catch your eye. Once you’ve selected your favourite pieces just e-mail us to reserve those pieces and send in a 50% deposit. Our rentals work on a first come first serve bases so the earlier you reserve the better! If your desired pieces aren’t available we will add those items to your “wish list” and keep you updated on new inventory and cancellations. And what if we get in a new piece that you like better than the one you already reserved? No problem! Just let us know and your deposit can be used towards reserving the new piece. Photo concepts, design and styling by Esla Events and Leigh Okies Designs.
Here are some of the fabulous pieces from One True Love’s inventory:
Thank you Amanda for sharing your insight and inventory with all of us! We can’t wait to see how you incorporate your fabulous finds into your big day this September. Are any of you brides-to-be out there using vintage props and furniture in your wedding decor? For all of you married chicks out there, were they are pieces of furniture that you rented and used for your big day and how was the experience?  
Pep Talk Tuesday {Removing Someone from your Wedding Party}
I think I may be speaking from experience, but planning a wedding can certainly bring out the best and worst in people. Get ready for this rather shattering revelation too people; planning your big day can make you wanna kick someones butt all the way out of your bridal party brigade. For the sake of making this post too complicated to follow, below I’ve referenced bridesmaids as opposed to groomsmen, however I want to make it clear that I think making adjustments to your wedding day team is often a necessary and totally acceptable thing to do when you’re it comes to the utmost happiness on your wedding day (without going all bridezilla on everyone, of course). Here are a few of my painless tips for carefully asking someone to step down from their bridal duties and obligations. P.S. I am seriously loving these oversized bouquets and this photo snapped by Dave Getzschman of Ben Chrisman Photography.
{Soul Search} Try to pin point the reason you’re removing the person (or wanting to remove them) in the first place. If it’s your childhood best friend who couldn’t make it to your sixth dress fitting because she was studying for her bar exam and you swear you wont ever.forgive.her.no.matter.what. then perhaps you need to reassess your feelings and take a step back to see how sensitive – and ridiculous – you’re being. Sure, it’s your wedding day and your feelings matter, but everyone else has a life of their own too. On the other hand, if the person in question is someone you’ve included in your party simply because you felt pressured or obligated to do so and now that the wedding is close you’re realizing your mistake, then it’s probably a safe choice to proceed with getting her the heck out. Make sure your reasoning behind your actions is somewhat justified so that come six months after the wedding you don’t feel foolish or regretful but instead confident and satisfied with your well-thought out decision. A classy bride to be in always in style.
{Compromise} Sometimes completely revoking someone of their bridal duties, may be a recipe for disaster and thus you’re forced to really get creative and make the best of the situation. Be willing to make a compromise with whoever it is that is not accepting of your decision to remove said person, whether it be said person herself, said person’s brother, said person’s mother (who could very well be your own Mom too), or the other members of your bridal party. There are numerous clever ways to include people in your wedding celebration without officially calling them a bridesmaid or having them walk down the aisle before you too, from ceremony readings, usher duties, a toast or speech and the list goes on. You may even get lucky and lift a huge weight off said person’s shoulders by suggesting an alternative role. The good news? All this compromising is stellar practice for your approaching marriage. Score.
{Trust Your Gut} I cannot stress this little three word statement enough. It something does not feel right at any point throughout your engagement, chances are, it’s not. The same holds true for your wedding party. If deep down inside your soon-to-be-married heart you feel as if your high school bestie really isn’t meant to be your maid of honour but instead your new work supervisor who you haven’t even know for a year better fits the job, then act on instinct. Just because your third cousin asked you to be a part of her big day doesn’t mean in any way that your suppose to return the favour. If you’d rather have your best guy friend stand up beside you or instead you’d like to forgo the entire bridal party all together and fly solo with your groom, well these are all completely reasonable possibilities. No one except you, knows what you want and understands what will make you feel only positive and fulfilled feelings on your day as a bride. Close your eyes and picture yourself on your wedding day surrounded by only those who support you, love you and respect you as a person and a friend. And the people that come to mind are the ones that’ll make the cut.
How about you? Did anyone have the tough task of removing a specific someone from your wedding party?
Finding Balance Between Blogging and Life {Part I}
I’m not the first to say it but running and maintaining a blog that works hand in hand with your business is one giant commitment. I know I know what you’re thinking, “But Rhi, you should only blog because it’s fun and what you love to do and it’s strictly for the sake of personal fulfillment!” and let me scream it from the rooftops friends, I do love what I do and yes, blogging is certainly all about those above mentioned perks. It’s just that when you are incredibly passionate about what you do and you have goals in mind and things your serious about accomplishing it can be a tinsey bit difficult to draw a line between work, blogging and life. Here are a few things I’ve started doing so I can add structure to my schedule and draw that fine line between work, blogging and my life as Rhi.
{Set Hours} One of the benefits of working from home is being able to roll out of bed and walk 15 feet to your desk. No work day commute, no need to get dolled up for the office; it’s not a bad set up. Yet on some days I find it is incredibly easy to roll out of bed, slump on the couch, turn on TLC’s hoarders marathon, and realize that come 6:00 pm I haven’t even brushed my teeth. Um gross. Setting a work schedule regardless of where I work from, not only provides structure and meaning to my day, but gives me a deadline to get things dome. I try to be on my computer by 9:00 am and pending my work flow logged off by 5:00 pm. I will then check twitter, email and so forth again before bed in case something pressing has happened. By giving myself a normal work day schedule I hope to make room for other activities in my life; like a shower. Too much information? Maybe. But it happens.
{Set Priorities} I love commenting on other blogs, I love watching television, I love taking naps and I love doing other leisurely things that are carefree, fun and enjoyable. But if I did these things all day every day whenever I wanted, it’s highly unlikely that there’d be any content on Hey Gorg leading to no job; and it’s highly unlikely I’d have a happy husband or supportive friends. Set priorities. Commenting, tweeting to and about others, linking to other sites, getting out of the house, going to a yoga class, calling home to family, sending friends a card in the mail, snuggling up on the couch to watch a movie. All of these things are equally important and crucial to a well rounded life. The key is setting priorities and making sure these things are done at the appropriate time. Just like I urge you above, to set hours, within those hours set priorities that provide you with personal and professional fulfillment, satisfaction and success.
{PreBlog} This sounds a little nutty but I’d say a good half of the content on Hey Gorg is preblogged; meaning it’s written days, if not weeks, before it goes live. If I get an idea for a post, or a submission that I absolutely love, I start formatting the post when I have a bit of free time so that when a day comes where I’m stumped for content all need to do is hit “publish.” Since I’m dedicated to blogging at least once a day and on some occasions twice, preblogging has made my life a little less stressful and frantic for me. For blogs where spur of the moment content is what you’re all about then preblogging doesn’t make sense. For a blog like yours truly it absolutely does.
{You’re Not Perfect} This one is a toughie for me. I thrive on the notion of perfection and bless my heart, have been medically diagnosed with a mild form of OCD. While it benefits things like my event styling work (and my closest and underwear drawer), in the grand scheme of things I am easily let down, frustrated and frazzled when things aren’t up to my standards. At the end of the day which these days unfortunately is midnight and beyond, I too often measure my success on the comments I’ve scored, the tweets I’ve tweeted and the amount of e-mails I’ve successfully responded to and archived neatly in the appropriate folder. Once you’re able to say “That’s enough for the day” or “Or well the feedback for today’s post wasn’t what I expected” and you are able to move forward and embrace a new day, you can allow yourself to grow, learn and experience positive thoughts as opposed to thoughts of not meeting your potential. And remember, if someone comes across as being a master at doing it all, chances are they are missing something in their life whether it be personal time, a social agenda, a gym routine, an orderly home; or they can afford to pay for an assistant. No one is perfect.
Stay tuned for Part II of Finding Balance Between Blogging and Life. I’ll be touching on how to tackle your inbox and in Part III, how to keep your work environment and space tidy, organized and inspirational. Above are two shots of my current work space which is (unfortunately) in fact our living room couch and on some days, our very comfy bed. One of the pitfalls of a small one bedroom in Chicago is a lack of space for an office. I did however recently purchased a fabulous white lacquered desk and sketched out my new office design; I cannot wait to move next month so I can share with you the progress I’ll be making on creating the Hey Gorg office. It will be not only a space to fuel my daily inspirations but a fabulous spot for client consults and meetings. Eeep!

What are your thoughts on Balancing Blogging and Life?

The Expert Files {How to Prepare for Your Engagement Session}
You may want to grab a seat for this one guys. Not only do I have dozens of gorgeous images for you to pore over today but I have some incredibly helpful expert advice from talented vintage modern, New York City based photographer, Maggie Harkov. I’ve been a huge fan of Maggie’s work for such a long time and she takes some of the prettiest photos I have ever laid my eyes on. Here she dishes about absolutely everything you need to know for your engagement photo session. Read on blogettes for all the goodness.
{What are the benefits to doing an engagement session? Both for the couple and photog?} Engagement sessions are a really valuable time for both the couple and wedding photographer to get to know one another. Weddings are such an intensely personal act, and it’s so important to me that my clients not only feel comfortable around me, but even more so, feel like a friend is showing up to document their day. In order for that to happen, we have to spend some time really getting to know each other and an engagement session allows us to do that on a different level. Having this time to get to know the couple enables me to capture them and see who that particular couple really is, as individuals and as a couple and all the tiny little intricacies that make them unique so that I’m better able to capture every moment on their wedding day. I really believe that all photographers capture a subject they know better than someone they don’t and I believe I’m able to capture what I do because of the way my clients and I get to know one another.
{Does the engagement session pay off on the wedding day?} Since most people aren’t used to having an unobtrusive paparazzi following them around for 8 hours a day, engagement sessions give couples the opportunity to really get comfortable in front of the camera so by the time the wedding day arrives they forget I am even there. Couples always tell me they feel like models for a day and that they can’t remember the last time they laughed, kissed or snuggled so much. We always follow a fabulous engagement session with dinner and drinks and it’s just a really fun time together with great images and new friends as a result. What’s not to love about that?
{How far in advance should a couple get their photos done?} I typically recommend that couples have their engagement session 2-3 months prior to their wedding date. This allows us to have another opportunity to see each other again and get to know one another more closer to their big day. This time frame is close enough to their wedding date that they’ll still remember what it feels like to be in front of the camera a few months down the line and be able to use their photos for projects they may have in mind. If a client wants a certain session to be captured, or to use the images for save the dates, than we’ll arrange for the session to take place earlier, but then we’ll meet up for coffee or drinks as their date approaches just to catch up.
{What can a couple do with their engagement prints?} Couples use the resulting images for lots of things. Some couples just want to have professional everyday photos of themselves that they might feel more comfortable having in their home than they would having dozens of wedding photos where they are all dressed up, or they’ll have an album made of their prints. Others order individual prints and have them displayed at the reception for their guests to see or they’ll order a sign in book with their favourite images and their guests leave words of encouragement as a beautiful keepsake.
{How can a couple really personalize their experience to have unique and memorable photos?} It’s my absolute favorite thing when couples get really involved in their engagement sessions and want to incorporate elements of themselves. The more you get into it, the more fun it can be! It can be anything in the world, just make it about you and your relationship. If you are a homebody couple that loves pizza and beer every Friday night, order in a pie and do the session in your home. Or if you had an awesome first date, recreate it. If you love coffee and met at Starbucks, bring props or ask if they’ll allow your engagement photos to be taken there. If you’re both obsessed with certain hobbies or a TV show or movie, use that as a theme. You can get super creative, just make it about you and your relationship. What makes you guys unique? Anything that has significance to you – a place, an object – anything can be incorporated and the photos will instantly mean that much more to you because they are true to you and your relationship.
{What helpful hints do you have for guys (and girls!) that are nervous about being lovey dovey in front of the camera?} Have some inside jokes to get each other to laugh. Bring props or buy an ice cream cone and just be in the moment with each other; forget that the camera is there. If you feel stuck, ask your photographer what they want you to be doing or tell him/her that you’re uncomfortable. It’s their job to make you feel at ease, but it’s natural to feel strange at first. Just remember that the happier and more smitten you are with each other, the happier you will be with your images.
{What can you advise your clients not to do before their sessions? (i.e. avoid a new hair colour)} I definitely wouldn’t advise any drastic new hairstyles or colours, or anything that doesn’t look like you. You want the images to be reflective of you, so don’t try to be something you’re not. If you have a great make-up artist set for your big day, it’s worthwhile to have your make-up trial beforehand so that you not only have a great look for your photos, but so you can also see how the results look in photos and if you want more/less a different look entirely, but you don’t want anything too over the top, unless you’re after a more styled session. 
{What is the most memorable e-session you ever did and why?} Wow. That’s a hard one! I don’t think I can come up with just one. I really love all engagement sessions because I have the chance to get to know my amazing clients better and have a ton of fun with them without the time constraints of a wedding day. Some of my favourite images resulted from my couples really sharing themselves and incorporating elements of their relationship: a first date, a love of the city/country, picnics, winter, gardening, football, etc. Anything that represents my couples and enables them to be themselves and laugh is what makes me smile and feel lucky to be part of and document.
A huge hug to you Maggie for sharing your expertise and wisdom with us! I heart you and will forever be one of your biggest fans. Looking forward to a possible meet up this summer in the Big Apple with you :) To everyone else, if you decided to do engagement photos, how did your experience pan out? For those of you that didn’t do an engagement session, why not? Would love to hear your thoughts!
Pep Talk Tuesday {The Average Wedding Budget}
I’m sure someone out there is going to tsk tsk or frown upon what I’m about to share, but our wedding, the one you all saw here, cost us $27,000 give or take a few thousand. Twenty-seven thousand big ones, my friends, $10,000 of which was generously given to us by my parents and $5,000 which was given to us by Andrews. The rest was funded by us. While we never really had a budget set from the get go we simply decided along the way if select items were necessary, important or doable for us. If we couldn’t make something work within reason then we moved on and learned to live without that specific something, done and done, end of story. And in the end we made $27,000 work for us. How do ya like them apples, blogettes? It’s not a number I am ashamed of and it’s not a number I am proud of but instead is merely a number that represents what we spent on everything that made our wedding what it was. For those inquisitive readers out there who are a little nosy (I’m nosy too, it’s cool) fifteen thousand went towards our venue, ceremony, food, alcohol, cocktail hour, and linens costs. The rest, including our honeymoon fell within the $12,000 remaining. If anyone is interested in any specific breakdowns of how much I spent on decor, DIY projects, photography, my dress or whatever, then send me an e-mail. I have no problem disclosing the totals on everything else. 
The point of my post today, is I wanted to generate a discussion on what the average wedding budget really is and what it truly means (not that I believe one specific average wedding budget exists because it doesn’t). There are so many magic numbers that float around out there as being industry standards for quality product and services and while it’s my job as a wedding stylist and coordinator to be aware of these prices so I can educate my clients I can’t help be feel like there’s a huge gray area when it comes to the cost of throwing a wedding. Some penny-pinching couples (I adore you guys, you amaze me with your frugalness and attention to detail) think $5,000 is an appropriate average wedding budget. Some couples think $100,000 is a fair amount to fork over for their big day. Maybe that’s just a number they’ve picked off the top of their head, maybe it’s what they can afford or what they’ve been given by their parents or maybe it’s the ‘average cost’ among their social circle and community. And some couples, perhaps in smaller cities may think $15,000 or $40,000 or whatever the number is is more along the lines of an average cost. And much like how unique each and every wedding is, the budget for each and every wedding is completely rare in it’s own form.
I saw this once on A Practical Wedding and thought it was a fitting idea for today’s Pep Talk so I am encouraging everyone, married or not, to leave an anonymous comment below with the cold hard facts of how much you spent or plan to spend on your wedding day. You can leave one total or a combination of totals that culminated to your grand total but please be respectful of others and refrain from bragging about how you saved money/had money to work with/spent almost less than half of the commentor above you. I for one, always had a greenish-hued cloud of dolla bills hanging over my head during my 2.5 years of engaged bliss and know that hearing from others would have made me feel a bit better about my choice to spend or not spend x amount of money in one direction or another. Money is a touchy subject and people are often quick to judge others based on their spending and saving decisions so I can only hope the post will allow you and I to have a new outlook an what that pain in the ass of an average wedding budget really is and what it really means, big budget or not. The whole wedding cost discussion is a little taboo and I want to change that because wedding costs are as real as the pretty pink roses in your bouquet. Ready, set, go! Above photo by Amanda Wilcher Photography.