Great Apartment, They Take Pets and Our Neighbors Are Nice

We moved to the desert of Nevada for year round warm temperatures and less humidity. Yes, it gets hot in the summer, but we have air conditioning. The nice thing is that it is only hot for a little while, and then it is comfortable the rest of the year. We found a nice apartment to live in at Spectrum-aptliving.com. This place had the amenities we wanted in an apartment. Outside is a huge swimming pool. We also have a private patio to enjoy. Another great feature is a washer and dryer right in the apartment. I am so happy we have that. I never met anyone that liked to go to a laundromat or to have to use washers and dryers in a laundry room. Continue reading


How a Rental Housing Journal Website is Teaching Us How to Make More Money with Our Rental Properties

I would not know what I am doing as a rental property owner without visiting the Journal website several times a week. This is where I read articles that are a real help to me as a landlord. For example, I would have never thought of having pet owners being a positive thing as a landlord. Now a lot of our rental income derives from Millennials who have dogs and cats. We even make an extra rental fee per pet. We have a few limitations and very few problems with pet owners. Our tenants with pets are just as clean and tidy as renters without pets. Plus, providing a dog park opens up even more of a revenue stream.

I learned from an article at the Journal about providing a bike room for our tenants. We charge an extra fee for tenants to use our bike room to store their bicycles. We provide a big area with vertical storage racks where tenants can lock up their bikes out of the weather. It also has security cameras and is well-lighted. We even have locking bike garages. Continue reading


Here’s How to Have an Amazing Reception Brunch

Here’s How to Have an Amazing Reception Brunch

For some couples, breakfast is always the best meal of the day—especially on their wedding day.

Wedding reception brunch waffles

Photo by Gideon Photography

Are you a morning person? Looking for a unique wedding twist? Consider a brunch reception! Be it a sunrise ceremony, your passion for breakfast, or a way to get a jump on your honeymoon, a brunch reception is a delicious, low-key and crowd-pleasing choice.

Timing Is Everything

A brunch reception usually takes place between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. If you’d like it to be more of a breakfast 9 a.m. is usually the earliest starting time to consider. According to Rosemary Howe, a New York City caterer, your guests’ stomachs may not be ready to handle heavy food right away. She suggests serving juices, coffee and cocktails along with some light, fruity nibbles before moving onto the main course, to avoid overwhelming guests who may still be wiping sleep from their eyes. Then, of course, comes coffee, dessert and wedding cake. Brunch is best served buffet style or as a seated meal (or a combination of the two). The other alternative is a cocktail brunch, where guests enjoy passed delicacies hors d’oeuvres-style (think scrambled egg tartlets and mini French toast) and cocktails like mimosas, bellinis, champagne and punch, as they mingle and celebrate.

Festive vs. Formal

Morning naturally sets a more mellow tone. A brunch can still be festive (think brightly colored flowers and mimosas), but it probably won’t include a crazy dance party. Satisfy friends and family with a bountiful buffet and fresh juice bar. Fancy a formal atmosphere? Go for fine china, champagne and a three-course meal. Also consider the time of year. If your big day falls during leaf-turning season, choose an ideal space where windows frame the colorful mosaic of gold and red hues. Planning a winter wedding? Consider a cozy brunch by a roaring fire. A tented springtime soiree in an English garden is a beautiful way to celebrate nature. When choosing a brunch spot, remember to see it during the time of day you are planning your reception—ask yourself, is it dark and depressing due to a lack of windows? Does the sun beat down during the day, making the room sweltering hot? This will help you notice any potential issues before it’s too late.

Brunch Budgets

A brunch is one of the most cost-effective receptions you can have: Brunches can range in price from $17 to $85 per head, depending on the menu and the site you choose. Your liquor costs will be much lower than an evening affair and you won’t have to shell out money for a band. Plus, reception sites are often less expensive to rent in the daytime.

Brunch Food Trends

One word: Frittatas. According to Rocco DiSpirito, the chef at Union Pacific in New York City, this Italian vegetable-and-egg dish is all the rage. “The frittata feels lighter yet substantial without being rich. It’s full of vegetables so it appeals to the health conscious and can be prepared with delicious cheeses and herbs.” Want to forgo the eggs altogether? Grilled veggies are a tasty alternative, according to Word of Mouth catering in New York City. Another hot brunch bite? “Smoked things,” says Dispirito. “Not just salmon and sable, but tuna bacon and salmon bacon, smoked tuna and smoked meats, and even smoked vegetables, which are great for late morning or early afternoon.” Asian foods are invading the brunch bash as well, with delectable dim sum. “People like these well-seasoned bites of food with a surprise inside,” says New York City caterer Karen Lee, who serves up these steamed buns and dumplings on stylish bamboo steamers. To add some spice to the soiree, some caterers are serving up familiar foods with a twist. Word of Mouth offers creative variations such as grilled chicken salad wraps, open-face sandwiches made on homemade dill sponge bread, and smoked salmon wraps instead of the traditional bagels and lox. Another hot trend is food stations, a lively (and less crowded) alternative to the standard buffet. Consider an omelet station, French toast station a crepe/pancake station (both with various toppings and syrups).

Tasty Tidbits

These days, people are definitely prioritizing a healthy diet more than ever, so scrambled eggs with cheese and sausage shouldn’t be the only dish on the buffet table. Consider more abundant healthful or vegetarian offerings, like fruit yogurt, egg-white omelets, gourmet pizza, poached salmon, vegetable tarts, grilled veggie sandwiches, whole grain baked goods and salad nicoise. And to add a little flair, think beyond the ordinary. Instead of muffins and croissants, feature orange-scented scones and walnut banana bread. And just because it’s before noon doesn’t mean you can’t have a wedding cake. You may opt for a lighter confection, such as carrot, lemon, angel food cake, or cheesecake, rather than a heavy fudge-covered cake. Or cut into a Mexican wedding cake—it’s a more forgiving treat made with nuts and powdered sugar. The easiest way to lighten up the midday wedding cake is to top it with fresh fruit.

Think Drinks

Go light on the liquor, and if you’d like to serve it, consider offering it after some food has been eaten. And don’t forget morning-time cocktails like bloody marys, mimosas, screwdrivers, mint juleps, punch, tequila sunrise (grenadine, tequila, and orange juice), bellinis or champagne with a few berries dropped in. And, of course, include delicious non-alcoholic breakfast beverages such as coffee (American, cafe au lait, espresso with lemon zest, cappuccino or Thai iced coffee), tea, (black, green, mint, spiced, chamomile, Earl Gray and English breakfast), fresh juices, hot chocolate, and fruit smoothies. For a southern affair, think iced tea with lemon, peach tea, fresh strawberry or watermelon lemonade and raspberry ginger ale punch.

Resources: Rocco DiSpirito, Chef, Union Pacific, New York, NY | Rosemary Howe, Caterer, Barraud Caterers, New York, NY | Karen Lee, Caterer, Karen Lee, New York, NY | Melissa Paston, Catering Sales Manager, W New York, New York, NY | Tim Patton, Caterer, Southern Seasonings Catering, Atlanta, GA | Alicia Reinish, Caterer, Word of Mouth Catering, New York, NY | Marti Schwartz, Serves You Right Catering, Los Angeles, CA; (818) | Monique Teichman, Catering Sales Manager, Bold American Food Company, Atlanta, GA


7 Love-Themed Decor Ideas You Need at Your Wedding

7 Love-Themed Decor Ideas You Need at Your Wedding

Flaunt your love with these creative decor ideas—from personalized lawn games to the sweetest desserts.
  1. Game Day

    blue and white DIY cornhole game

    Photo by Skye Snyder Photography

    Personalized cornhole is just the thing for a casual celebration.

  2. Garden Envy

    DIY moss love sign

    Photo by Mary Rosenbaum Photographs

    With hanging letter wreaths, you can enhance a rustic spot without taking away from its barn charm.

  3. Light Show

    love marquee sign
    Photo by Stackwood Studios

    Forget your name and see your love in lights! Hanging marquee letters add a personal touch to any industrial space.

  4. Sweet Treat

    love white fondant wedding cake

    Photo by Heather Kincaid Photographer

    Repeated fondant “love” letters create a modern pattern—no topper or flowers necessary!

  5. Sugar Rush

    white letter candy dish
    Photo by Angie Wilson Photography

    Treat guests to a whimsical candy bar display—they’ll love all of the colorful options.

  6. Woodworks

    birch wood love sign
    Photo by READYLUCK

    Glittery gold letters glam up woodsy birch branches.

  7. Love Letter

    personalized love ketubah
    Photo by Mi Belle Photographers

    Make a bold statement with a contemporary logo. Carry it throughout the day, from your paper goods to your favor packaging.


Comfort Food Ideas For Your Wedding Menu

Comfort Food Ideas For Your Wedding Menu

Make your guests feel totally at home with easy-to-eat appetizers or fun late-night snacks for the after-party.

Wedding receptions with comfort food appetizers

Photo by Readyluck

For a lot of your guests, the most memorable part of the wedding is the food—everything from the presentation to the taste and smell can leave a lasting impression. Your menu options don’t have to be limited to just chicken and fish! Some of the most creative menus we’ve seen involve lots of comfort foods. Imagine your guests’ faces when they walk into your reception expecting to see the typical trays of canapes and instead find mini chicken fingers? We rounded up 16 of our favorite options to give you some delicious inspiration.

Warning: Don’t read on an empty stomach!

1. Homemade Biscuits

Wedding biscuits
Photo by Liz Banfield Photography

Delicious biscuits can take the place of typical bread baskets. In addition to squares of butter, consider adding some honey to the spread too.

From A Carmel Valley Ranch Wedding in Carmel, California

2. Mini BLTs

Wedding BLT |<img class=
Photo by Ira Lippke Studios

There’s no reason you can’t serve one of the most classic sandwiches ever. You can even up the presentation by imprinting the letters “BLT” in the bread.

From A Modern Country Wedding in Bridgehampton, New York

3. Tiny Cheeseburgers

Wedding cheeseburgers |<img class=
Photo by B&G Photography

If you serve satisfying cheeseburgers (or even veggie or black bean burgers), we guarantee your friends and family will never stop talking about how amazing your wedding food was—especially if you add a custom sauce and condiments station to the mix.

From A Calamigos Ranch Wedding in Malibu, California

4. Cute Ice Cream Cones

Wedding ice cream |<img class=
Photo by Kate Osborne

Nothing goes better with cake than ice cream.

From A Brighton Ski Resort Wedding in Brighton, Utah

5. Pigs in a Blanket

Pigs in a blanket wedding snacks
Photo by Erika Follansbee Photography

We love the idea of hot dogs for a backyard wedding or a fun Fourth of July bash. Even better? Pigs in a blanket.

From A Fourth of July County-Fair-Inspired Wedding at Publick House Historic Inn in Sturbridge, Massachusetts

6. Classic Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

Wedding grilled cheese |<img class=
Photo by Scott Campbell Photography

There is no comfort food better than grilled cheese and tomato soup. Create nostalia at your wedding, but make the meal more adult by serving smaller sandwiches and soup in drink glasses for dipping.

From A Carmel Valley Ranch Wedding in Carmel, California

7. Southern Fried Chicken

Wedding fried chicken |<img class=
Photo by Tanveer Badal Photography

Yes, it might be a little messy, but that’s what the 200 pretty, personalized napkins you ordered are for.

From A Green Building Wedding in Brooklyn, New York

8. French Fries With a Side of Ketchup

Wedding french fries |<img class=
Photo by Larissa Cleveland Photography

How pretty are these cocktail glasses filled with ketchup and french fries? The dipping sauce is right at the bottom and the glass makes it easy to carry around so your guests won’t get french fry oil all over their hands.

From A Stunning Mountain Wedding in Big Sur, California

9. Playful Doughnuts

Wedding doughnuts |<img class=
Photo by Nikki Closser Photography

Swap or supplement your wedding dessert with some sweet treats like doughnuts.

From A Bright Summer Wedding in Corbett, Oregon

10. Savory Chicken and Waffles

Wedding chicken and waffles |<img class=
Photo by Kathryn Krueger

If you want to take fried chicken one step further, serve this classic duo with a side of maple syrup.

From A Colorful, Casual Wedding in Austin, Texas

11. New England Lobster Rolls

Wedding lobster rolls |<img class=
Photo by Jenny DeMarco Photography

Buttery bread plus lobster equals a meal your guests will dream about forever.

From A Four Seasons Hotel Wedding in Austin, Texas

12. Fried Macaroni and Cheese

Wedding fried macaroni and cheese |<img class=
Photo by Michelle Lindsay Photography

A macaroni and cheese bar is one of our favorite wedding ideas, but if you want to serve the dish as a finger food, consider frying it up and putting it on a stick.

From A Rustic, Romantic Wedding in Washington, DC

13. Milk and Cookie Escort Cards

Wedding milk and cookies |<img class=
Photo by Mirelle Carmichael Photography

Give your guests a taste of what’s to come with these milk and cookie escort cards to lead them to their seats.

From A Private Winery Wedding in Napa Valley, California

14. Tasty Pies

Wedding pie |<img class=

Photo by AMB Photo

This is another great option if cake isn’t really your style. You can work with your caterer to create pies in a few different flavors that guests are sure to love.

From A Homespun Summer Wedding in Ottawa, Ontario

15. Cheesy Pizza

Wedding pizza |<img class=

Photo by Bonnie & Lauren

Everyone loves pizza, so it’s sure to be a huge hit at your reception. Consider serving it as a late-night snack to keep the party vibes up all night long.

From A Whimsical Wedding in Brooklyn, New York

16. Make-Your-Own Tacos

Taco tray at wedding reception

Photo by David Lynn Photography

Your guests will love a taco bar, and it’s a fun way to let everyone put their own twist on their meal.

From An Elegant Formal Wedding in Mount Vernon, Colorado


Best Man Speech Tips, Tricks and Cheats

Best Man Speech Tips, Tricks and Cheats

Write and deliver the perfect best man speech with this foolproof advice.

bride and groom toasting

Photo by Chaz Cruz Photographer

So you’re the best man. It’s a pretty good feeling when one of your friends or relatives deems you their right-hand guy. But lurking beyond the fun and harmless stuff—bachelor parties and dancing with the maid of honor, to name a couple—is your final big duty: the best man speech.

When it comes to public speaking, about 10 percent of the population loves it. And about 10 percent is deathly afraid of it. No matter which camp you fall into (you can do it!), you’re going to want to boost your chances of making your best man speech a hit by preparing well.

Best Man Speech Tips

There are a few great best man speech tips that boost your odds of success, says Dominic Bliss, wedding writer and author of Being the Best Man for Dummies.

  1. Plan way ahead. “Start writing a best man speech at least two months before the wedding,” Bliss says. As the wedding nears, there are lots of events—suit fittings and a coed shower, perhaps—that could distract you from getting your writing done.
  2. “Kick off with a killer opening line,” Bliss says. Get everyone’s attention and set the mood with a great one-liner joke to start your speech.
  3. Make jokes about the groom but not the bride. Bliss says to keep any teasing focused on your buddy, whom we’re guessing you’re closer to.
  4. Practice—with an audience. Even if you think you have this whole thing in the bag, practice delivering your speech out loud at least three times. Whip out your phone, take a video and watch the playback to get a feel for how it’s going. “Or send it to a close friend who won’t be going to the wedding and who can give you honest feedback,” Bliss says.
  5. Write it down. Memorizing is fine if you have a great memory, but you’ll feel a lot more confident if you have a written speech. Nerves can mess with your memory! Bliss suggests using small note cards instead of a sheet of paper, since they “won’t flap around.”
  6. “Vary the pace and tone of your speech,” Bliss says. You know those movies that make you laugh, and then make you cry? Or have action and romance? Aim for that in your best man speech. Variety keeps a speech interesting and strikes the emotional chords of your audience.
  7. Don’t mumble. “Enunciate your words loudly and clearly,” Bliss says. A great best man speech becomes boring if it’s delivered monotone—and it’s nonexistent if everyone is straining to hear you. Speak confidently!
  8. Have a plan B. “If you feel your speech flagging, just turn toward the bride and announce loudly, ‘Doesn’t she look beautiful?!’ This will always get a cheer from your audience,” Bliss says.

How to Write a Best Man Speech

Writer’s block is no excuse for not starting a best man speech. All you’ve got to do is follow the below best man speech outline, which Bliss says is a pretty tried-and-true template for getting started. Obviously, you don’t need to include all of these elements in your speech; instead, customize it to fit the couple, the event and your relationship with the groom. Take out any pieces that don’t quite work, then fill in the details.

Best Man Speech Outline

  • Have a killer opening line.
  • Thank the other speakers.
  • Congratulate the wedding couple.
  • Compliment the bride.
  • Make a joke about the groom.
  • Read messages from guests who couldn’t make it, if there are any.
  • ·Quote a few famous lines or a poem.
  • ·Propose a toast.

Best Man Speech Length

How long should a best man speech be? In general, keep the speech to about five minutes or less[EM3]. This is enough time to say something meaningful but not so long that your audience gets antsy. Of course, you also should adjust your speech length to the event. Bliss points out that a quickie Vegas wedding might call for a more brief speech, while at an all-day formal affair, you might be expected to speak for longer.

What To Avoid

There are a few topics to omit from your best man speech. No matter how funny you (and even the groom) might think they are, there’s bound to be someone who’s offended or put off if you mention:

  • Negativity about marriage in general.
  • Ex-girlfriends or boyfriends.
  • Previous marriages/divorces.
  • Drinks, drugs, gambling, STDs.
  • “Adult” humor or any other mention of sex.

Best Man Speech Ideas

To come up with the best best man speech jokes and one-liners, think hard about the groom’s personality and times you’ve shared with him. Would he mind it if you make fun of him a little, or is he more serious or shy? Is there a heartwarming story you can tell that others might not know about? What people will be attending the wedding and what kind of humor will they enjoy?

“Don’t try to be a stand-up comedian if it doesn’t come naturally,” Bliss says. “But embarrassing anecdotes from the groom’s youth are always funny.”

Best Man Speech Jokes and One-Liners

If you want to make a funny best man speech, consider poking some kind fun at the groom. “Every groom will have some funny characteristic or quirk you can ridicule,” Bliss says. “As long as it’s something that everyone can appreciate, it’s sure to get a laugh. Avoid obscure references or inside jokes. You want older guests and those who don’t know him that well to see the funny side too.”

For example:

If the groom is a bad cook: “When I used to share an apartment with [groom], it was his job to cook all the meals, and it was my job to go from room to room taking out all the batteries from the smoke alarms.”

If the groom is a bad singer: “I’d like to say that [groom] sings with lots of feeling. But let’s be honest—if he had any feelings, he wouldn’t sing at all.”

If the groom is chatty: “[Groom] has the uncanny ability to talk for hours on any subject—and days if he actually knows anything about it.”

Best Man Speech Examples

Here are a few sample best man speeches you can use as inspiration to create your own personalized speech:

Funny Best Man Speech

Hello! For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Sam, the best man. I’ve known Michael (groom) since middle school, which means since before we learned what a mullet is and that it wasn’t a good look for either of us.

Michael and Chrissy (bride) told me there are some topics I should avoid in this speech so… [Look though cue cards, then shake head and dramatically drop them all to the floor but one.]

[Reading from the remaining cue card] …Michael is really the best friend I’ve ever had. He’s done so many wonderful things that it would be difficult to name them all … Hey, Michael, I can’t read your handwriting here!

But seriously, it’s all true. This guy is a great friend—the best I’ve got—and I’m very proud to stand by his side today.

Chrissy, I was hoping to be the best looking person in the room today but obviously I failed miserably. You look beautiful. I’m so happy for the two of you.

May you always find joy in the little things, like Xbox and Star Wars, oh wait, no that was Sam and me in middle school. Find joy in each other, and have a lifetime of happiness together. Let’s toast the bride and groom!

Short Best Man Speech

As the poet Dante once said, “A great flame follows a little spark.” When Matt (groom) met Sarah (bride), there was a little spark. I know because I talked to him the next day.

From the way he talked about her, this girl he chatted up at a party, I could tell this spark was something special.

You two are great together. May the flame burn long—and may sparks continue to fly.

To the bride and groom. Cheers.

Best Man Speech for Brother

On my fourth birthday, my parents got me a brother… I wanted a puppy.

But seriously, as a kid [groom] wanted to do everything I did. He used to follow me around. He used to sneak in my room and play with my Matchbox cars. Mom and Dad could get him to eat his broccoli by making me eat my broccoli.

It wasn’t until after I went to college that he started going down his own path. He started doing volunteer work. He found a job he loves, an apartment that’s pretty killer and, of course, he found Beth.

Beth, you look beautiful today. And you make my brother so happy. Thank you for doing that. He’s a good guy. To me, he’s the best person you can have by your side.

I’m so happy you two found each other. I mean it when I say that I’m gaining a sister today.

And I’m glad I didn’t get a puppy. I love you, little brother.

Congratulations to both of you. I wish you a lifetime of love and happiness together. Let’s toast the bride and groom!

Heartfelt Best Man Speech

In preparation for this day, I Googled “heartfelt best man speech” and I found a website with thousands of different speech examples that I could pay to see. But I’m cheap, so I’m just winging it.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Jim. I’ve known Rich (groom) since we were freshmen at USC. We were roommates and the thing I remember most about Rich was this giant Styx poster he put up in the room.

Seriously, who was into Styx in 2006? Anyway, once I got over my embarrassment about having that ridiculous poster in my dorm room, and I got to know Rich, I realized he’s a pretty great guy.

He let me have his $300 chemistry textbook. He drove four hours to help me move into my apartment. He never murdered me in my sleep because of my terrible snoring.

And Janet (bride). She’s become a good friend too. Janet, thank you for rescuing me when I got a flat tire and for going to the chili place with Rich and me a million times even though you’re a vegetarian. You’re the best. And for introducing me to all the bridesmaids. Oh wait, you still need to do that.

Really, you two are the best friends I could ask for. And, more importantly, you’re the best together. You deserve all the happiness in the world.

May your marriage be filled with laughter and love. And may this be just the beginning of a great romance. I hope I did okay winging it.

Here’s to the bride and groom. Cheers!


10 Things No One Tells You About the Wedding Day

10 Things No One Tells You About the Wedding Day

No matter how many weddings you’ve attended before, or how many times you’ve been a bridesmaid, there are some things you just don’t find out about until your own wedding day.

Bride and Groom Outdoors

Photo by Lin and Jirsa

Talk to anyone whose gone through it before and they’ll tell you that your wedding day absolutely flies by. You’ll be so busy going from one thing to the next that before you know it, you’ll be cutting the cake! Any number of wedding planning advice articles will tell you that you need an emergency kit (just in case!), that it can be difficult to use the bathroom in your ball gown and to make sure to pack a stain remover. But also, there are all these intangible, special moments that make up the wedding day itself. Here, 10 truths about the wedding day that no one ever talks about.

1. Ten minutes before the ceremony is the most nerve-wracking part.

The time leading up to the walk down the aisle will be the most anxiety-ridden 10 minutes you’ll ever have. And it makes sense—you’re about to make a life-changing decision in front of all the people you love and care about the most. Just remember that your other half is waiting for you at the end of the journey and you’re going to have a huge party to celebrate (not to mention the reason why you said “yes” in the first place).

2. The ceremony is the best part.

There’s something truly amazing about the wedding ceremony. The traditions, the vows and all your emotional family members combine to make this into one of the most special moments of your life. Our advice? Take it all in and drink it up. You’ll want these memories to last a lifetime.

3. You’ll definitely cry.

Okay, this one might not be such a secret. What is it about weddings that makes everyone so emotional anyway? All we can say is that crying is basically inevitable. And since you already know the waterworks are coming, the best thing to do is just be prepared. Wear waterproof makeup (or even get eyelash extensions), keep some mascara and lipstick readily available for quick touch-ups, and store some tissues nearby—you’ll need them.

4. Your face will hurt from smiling so much.

Thousands of pictures aside, you’ll be smiling all day because it’s going to be the best day ever. You’re marrying your best friend, after all! Between finally “making it official” with your fiance and dancing like crazy with all of your close friends and family, there’s literally no reason to frown (even if it rains).

5. You’ll be amazed by the love and support of your family and friends.

They all showed up for one reason—you! You and your soon-to-be spouse will get all—and we really mean all—of the attention. You may not even be able to eat dinner, since you’ll have so many people to talk to and so many pictures to take. Between the pinches on the cheek from your grandma and the side-punches from your college pals, you’ll be overcome by the love and support of those around you.

6. You’ll want a little alone time.

In fact, you might be so overcome that you may want to take a few moments just for you, or the two of you. Some of the most special minutes of the day are the few you get to spend alone—preparing for what’s to come—or together with your new spouse, taking it all in.

7. You might be a little exhausted.

Let’s face it, you won’t get too much sleep the night before your wedding. Between stressing over the seating chart, a tiff with your mom, or just overall excitement for the day to come, you’ll be seriously lacking in shut-eye. Pro tip: Under-eye concealer will be your best friend.

8. It won’t all go as planned.

Something might end up going wrong. It could be little, or it could be big, but our best advice is to soldier on and try to think of the big picture. Can you solve this problem easily? Does it make a huge difference in the long run? Are your guests still having fun? Are you having fun? If these questions are easily answered, then don’t sweat it—just keep enjoying your celebration, and feel free to delegate tasks to planners and relatives so you don’t have to deal with drama.

9. The most magical moment will be when you least suspect it.

We promise that the most special moment of the day, or weekend, is going to be something you never expected. A stolen minute or two with your soon-to-be spouse, a hug from your dad, or an impromptu speech by your college roommate could end up meaning the world to you.

10. You’ll feel different.

Even if you and your other half have been cohabiting for years, once you’re legally wed, things will feel official. It might just be a slight shift or it could feel like a noticeable change, but it will definitely seem like the real deal.


Rent a Hologram Photo Booth for Your Wedding Reception (Seriously!)

Rent a Hologram Photo Booth for Your Wedding Reception (Seriously!)

You won’t believe this hologram selfie station that’ll make your wedding reception pixel perfect.

Chalk board photo booth sign

Photo by Lauren Fair Photography

We love a classic photo booth—it’s the perfect way to snap fun pics and entertain your guests all night long—so we had to spread the word about this trendy, tech-savvy wedding reception amenity. Say hello to VNTANA’s newest interactive invention, The HOLLAGRAM Selfie. This photo station allows you and your guests to create actual holographic doubles you can see live right before your eyes—talk about personalization.

Already used by major companies like Mercedes Benz and A-list celebs (think: tennis pro Roger Federer), The HOLLAGRAM’s interactive software captures your movements to a tee. As you and your guests dance and pose in front of the screen, you can instantly see an accurate and hilarious representation live on the display. And what would this hologram station be without social media integration? This gadget creates pictures, videos and even GIFs, so you and your guests can share your hologram experiences on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep the laughs going long after the party’s over.

See photos of The HOLLAGRAM in action:

VNTANA's The HOLLAGRAM selfie station photo booth
VNTANA's The HOLLAGRAM selfie station photo booth

VNTANA’s The HOLLAGRAM bridal packages start at $4,950.


Tasty Cocktail and Appetizer Pairings We Love

Tasty Cocktail and Appetizer Pairings We Love

Which small bites partner best with which sips? Here are five cocktail hour food and drink combos to try.

Mini grilled cheese appetizer with gazpacho shooters

Photo by Kristin Chalmers Photography

Wow your wedding guests at cocktail hour with the perfect drink and appetizer pairings. We’re talking crowd favorite combos like sliders and beer or tacos and margaritas, so get ready to add some delicious personalization to your cocktail hour lineup. Below, a few of our favorite pairs to inspire your menu.

Fried Chicken Bites & Mini Rum and Cokes

Fried Chicken Bites with Mini Rum and Cokes wedding cocktail and appetizer
Photo by Mel Barlow

Mouthfuls of crispy fried chicken spooned into edible cups (try Parmesan or lettuce cups) pair perfectly with an ice cold Coke—especially served in mini Coke bottles with a splash of rum.

Mini Tacos & Margaritas

Mini Tacos and Margaritas
Photo by Kristyn Hogan

There’s nothing like tequila and tacos to get a party going! Wash your taco down with a refreshing margarita, served in mini tequila bottles with a decorative straw.

Crispy Clams & Bloody Marys

Crispy Clams with Bloody Marys wedding cocktail and appetizer
Photo by Mel Barlow

Take your tastebuds to the shore with some crispy fried seafood, like clams or calamari, served alongside Bloody Marys for the ultimate summer pairing.

Burgers & Beer Stein Sippers

Slider appetizers with mini beer steins
Photo by J.Stoia Portrait Design

Sometimes, you just have to give the people what they want: Juicy little burger bites with mini steins of your favorite brew will always steal the show (even at a formal wedding).

Grilled Cheese & Gazpacho Soup Shots


Substitute liquor with chilled soup or gazpacho shooters (tomato-based ones are usually crowd-pleasers) to chase gooey grilled cheese bites.


Wedding Reception Lighting Basics

Wedding Reception Lighting Basics

Add some shine to your wedding décor with our ultimate guide to lighting by style.

By Lauren Kay

Photo by Steve Steinhardt Photography

When done well, lighting can make everything look better, from your wedding cake to your guests. The right kind of illumination will also get those details you spent hours on noticed, create awesome photo ops (hello, sparklers!) and allow you to spend less on the rest of the décor. It really is that impactful. We like to think of lighting as the jewelry of a space—just as a certain mix of baubles can make an outfit, the right lights will make your reception unforgettable. Here’s the right way to plan your lighting.

Choosing Your Glow

You love candlelight, but the country club has a strict no-openflame policy. Or you want to string hundreds of twinkle lights over your outdoor tables, but a lack of outlets makes that a very expensive idea. Your lighting must be a match for both your budget and your wedding venue. Before you get your heart set on a specific style of illumination, talk to a lighting designer. You’ll probably have to bring in a specialist for lighting since most venues don’t offer this service. But engaging a pro has its perks. See if your space can recommend someone who has partnered with them in the past—that person will be familiar with the location’s sore spots, built-in lighting and power capabilities. Most experts can make suggestions and show you before-and-after pictures of various lighting arrangements too.



inRead invented by Teads

inRead invented by Teads

Find Your Pro

There are a couple ways to find your wedding lighting specialist. First, ask your event designer or wedding florist, many do their own lighting. If not, they may have a lighting pro they regularly work with. Or, the coordinator at your reception venue could probably recommend a lighting company that has worked with the site before—and ask to see pictures of the space transformed by various lighting arrangements. Don’t be surprised if your lighting designer has a background in theater, many experts are using the same technology and techniques in weddings that they honed creating dramatic sets for the stage.

Photo by Austin Gros

Inside vs. The Great Outdoors

Where you celebrate will greatly impact the kind of lighting you’ll need. Before settling on a concept, try to plan a site visit for the same time of day as your wedding—you’ll get a better idea of how bright the afternoon sun on the lawn really is and how much built-in lighting already exists in the ballroom. If you’re hosting indoors, you’ll want to walk the space with your lighting vision in mind—and, better yet, with a pro by your side. Even if the space has sufficient built-in lighting, additional options (like hanging chandeliers) may help convey the vibe you’re after. Look around the room and see where the fixed lighting is focused.

Hosting outdoors? Visit after dark. This will help you identify what needs to be illuminated in order to keep your reception safe, plus what might set a mood for your guests. Take note of outdoor outlets and ask your venue if permits are needed. Do your best to stay away from floodlights or anything fluorescent. In both cases, take note of limitations and try to come up with alternative options. If you’re hosting a wedding at home, discuss how much electricity your lighting designer is going to need. Your band or DJ will probably have to tap into your home’s power for their speakers, and you don’t want to risk blowing a fuse. If your lighting expert is concerned that there won’t be enough power to go around, they may consider bringing a generator, which should be kept well out of earshot.

Learn Lighting Lingo

Here are the types of lighting commonly used at weddings.

Pin spot: A focused beam of light that shines directly onto an object, like a centerpiece or wedding cake, as a highlight effect.

Color wash: Basically a blanket of colored light covering an entire area to create a mood or change the look of built-in décor.

Gobos: Circular stencils that are put over a light to project a design or pattern onto a wall, ceiling or floor. Monograms, dates and wedding motifs are popular gobo designs.

Led: Short for “light-emitting diode,” LED lights use much less electricity than (and don’t get as hot as) regular incandescent lightbulbs. They can also be wireless, which makes them even more discreet. LEDs are great for color changes and vibrant hues.

String lighting: A strand of LED lights that can create a magical effect (think Christmas or market lights). An installation can be labor-intensive, but the lighting itself is fairly budget-friendly.

Photo by Sylvie Gil Photography

Lighting by Style

Now that you’ve got all the tips and tricks, learn what type of lighting is best for your wedding style.

Your Wedding Style: Classic
Many classic reception spaces are outfitted with gorgeous fixtures, like crystal chandeliers and wall sconces, that add elegant ambience to a space at no extra cost. If you’re looking to up the glitz, add silver candelabras to dining tables—they’ll give off a soft glow and serve as decoration. Keeping things more modern? Fill glass hurricanes with pillar candles for the same romantic effect. Consider adding a monogram to your dance floor with a gobo, or use a spotlight to show off a raw bar, an ice sculpture or a gorgeous cake. If you’re dining and dancing under the stars, twinkle lights are pure magic. And don’t forget to end the evening on a high note with a classic sparkler send-off, venue permitting.

Your Wedding Style: Rustic
Saying “I do” in a barn? Start with market lights. These globestyle strands add a bit of whimsy to outdoor spaces. They’re larger than twinkle or Christmas lights, so each bulb provides a generous amount of illumination while also creating a charming atmosphere. Line ceremony aisles or outdoor pathways with luminaries—the simple paper bags will make a big statement. If you’re going for a more eclectic look, opt for a unique chandelier treatment (think mason jars or Edison bulbs) or mix a few styles of lighting. Make an open space feel more intimate by designating spaces within the venue, like hanging a chandelier over the lounge area or creating a ceremony backdrop with suspended paper star lanterns.

Your Wedding Style: Romantic
Enhance your picturesque plantation home or castle with twinkle lights. These tiny bulbs sparkle! Hang them vertically to create a ceremony backdrop, or drape them from a tent for a canopy or starry-sky effect. If you’re celebrating outdoors, consider suspending lanterns from trees, or use them to light pathways. (Mini lanterns could also make cute escort cards.) Chandeliers make any setting feel more intimate, while pink color-wash lighting will give your whole space a romantic, rose-colored glow. At the end of the evening, ask guests to send wish lanterns into the night sky with a wish for your future.

Your Wedding Style: Modern
Add a party vibe to an unfinished modern space (a gallery, a city loft) with color-wash lighting. Opt for hues that flatter skin tones, such as pinks and purples, and let them build in intensity over the course of the evening. Sleek, pre-lit tables, which literally glow from within, offer a warm but contemporary feel. Consider adding LED lights to floral arrangements for luminous stems that double as décor and mood lighting. Illuminate venue walls with a cool gobopatterneffect, or project tiny stars on the ceiling above the dance floor. A moving design or video projection of blooming florals or a bustling cityscape is another cool, techy option.

Your Wedding Style: Edgy
Planning to exchange vows in a converted warehouse or historic building? Play up your unique style with lighting that matches. Use uplighting to draw attention to architectural details or add a wash of color to the space. For table lighting, look to clusters of iron lanterns, which can double as illumination and centerpieces. Or incorporate an Edison bulb chandelier for a more retro look. Personalize your ceremony space with a custom marquee sign or strands of vertical market lights. Hosting an after-party? Have some fun with ’90s-style glow sticks, or ask your bartender to slip LED cocktail stirrers into your signature sip for a festive nightcap

Special thanks to Suzanne Lowell from Suzanne B. Lowell Lighting Design, Inc. in Waltham, MA; Nicky Graham from Sugar Sweet Events in Atlanta and Washington, DC