Can’t I Just Plan It on Pinterest?

Pinterest is one of our favorite sites! We can actually get lost on there for hours. It’s addicting. One pin or one board leads to another, and before you know it, well, let’s just say you’ve added a lot of pins to a lot of different boards! And thank goodness for that feature they added that tells you if you’ve already pinned that picture, because I used to find myself pinning the same thing three or four times on the same board! Guess I really liked it, huh?main-pinterest-board

Almost every bride has her own wedding dream board, or boards, that she uses to save all of her ideas. Sometimes she started the boards before she even had a ring! Or in some cases, before she was even dating anyone! Well, a girl can never be too prepared!

Thank goodness they added that secret board option, and now they even have an unlimited number of secret boards rather than just three! You can pin all the wedding dresses you like, and your fiancé won’t be able to snoop around on your board and see any of them! (Assuming he’s on Pinterest!) They’re making it all too easy for us to get lost on there.

And yes, you can certainly use Pinterest as a planning tool. In fact, we even encourage it. We certainly have our share of wedding boards on Pinterest! But there’s one very important thing to remember. Not all of the great ideas you see on there are as easy to do as you think. Or as affordable. Using some of those ideas can easily add another $3,000-5,000 on to the cost of your wedding by the time you’re finished! inspired ecard

How can that be? Easy. Most of those pictures on Pinterest are professional photos, not photos taken by family and friends. The cute DIY favors and table decorations are really gorgeous, but when you start to make them, they don’t always look like the picture! Unless you have a really crafty friend to help you. (Fortunately, we have a number of talented and crafty people who can put together some amazing decorations.) And you can find yourself spending a lot more money than you’d planned, unless you have a lot of those “40% off one item” or “25% off your entire purchase today only” craft store coupons, and several friends to go shopping with you with extra coupons!board-a-reality

You can sometimes go wild with ideas on Pinterest, and decide on an over-abundance of things that you just HAVE to have, and when you start putting it all together for that day, well, there’s sometimes not enough room on the tables for the food! Or you can’t see around the centerpieces to the people across the table from you. Or you decide you like two or three different styles of decor, but unless you know what you’re doing, it can look like two or three different styles that don’t look right together! Or you may fall in love with a certain style of bouquet and decide to make it yourself, but when you’re done, it doesn’t look right with your dress, or it’s too big or too small for you, and it just looks wrong! Then you’re scrambling at the last minute to find someone to help you out!wedding-ideas-board

And all those photo ideas….there are some really great ones, but please don’t pick out 20-30 poses you just HAVE to have, and give them to your photographer. Five or six, yes, but discuss with him/her what your ideas are and let the professional decide what to shoot. He/she most likely has ideas just for you and your fiancé that are perfect for the two of you and no one else! You hired the photographer because you trusted their work and their creativity. Let them do their thing!

One other very important point. Someone has to be available to place all your decorations around the venue, as well as collect them afterwards, and let’s face it. You certainly aren’t going to have time to be doing that, and neither are your attendants, or your family! You have other things to do that day!

Bottom line, if you’re a DIY bride, or a Pinterest bride, that’s fine, but make sure you have someone trustworthy to help you that knows how to put everything together. (Like a wedding planner!) Your friends may tell you they can put all the decorations out for you, but what happens when they forget something, or don’t get to your venue in time? Or even worse, are too sick from the night before to be able to do what they’re supposed to do! It may look easy when you’re pinning all those things you just HAVE to have, but trust me, when you start trying to put everything together, unless you’re really creative and organized, you’re going to get overwhelmed and miss some important details! And your wedding day is NOT the day to have that happen!wedding-planner

Remember…it’s your wedding! You want it right. And we’re ready to help you make your day as special as you are!planning

And be sure to follow us on Pinterest!

Making a List and Checking it….??

We’ve all seen those signs on Pinterest that say something like “Today two families become one, so pick a seat, not a side!”

Well, in theory that’s certainly true. However, sometimes in reality that’s not quite the way it works! (But wouldn’t it be nice if it did?!)

And if only it was just dealing with where someone is going to sit at the ceremony and the reception. More on that in another post!

One of the first (and sometimes most stressful) parts of planning the wedding for the bride and groom is writing out the guest list. Because it’s not usually just the two of you putting it together! Oh, no. Your families are going to want to include their invitees, and rightfully so if they’re paying for the wedding, or even a portion of it. That’s just how it works.

But the guest list can become a real point of contention, sometimes to the point of total “knock down, drag out” arguments in which you don’t speak to each other for days! And that is something you need to avoid.

The hard truth is, #1, there is a budget. Each guest costs $XX. And #2, unless you’re holding your wedding and reception somewhere with 3-4 moveable walls to accommodate half of a small town, you’re not going to have enough room for your second cousin twice removed and his whole family, or your great aunt Martha who you haven’t seen in twenty years!
Scratched off Guest List

So where do you start?

Tradition says that each side should have an equal number of people invited. However, that tradition is not always strictly adhered to any more, since the couple usually counts their friends as THEIR friends, not his or her friends. Some families and extended families aren’t as large as others. And there are always some out of town family members who need to be invited and almost certainly won’t be able to come. At least so you think! Until they get their invitation! And guess what…they’re coming!bridalguide com

So have your fiancé and his family write out their list of “must invite” and “would like to invite” and “should invite”. You and your family do the same. (This sounds better than an “A” list and a “B” list, even though that’s sort of what you’re doing.) Go ahead and include family, friends, and anyone from your offices that you might think you should ask. But be careful here! Unless you’re really, really close to some of your co-workers, it’s usually best to leave them off the list!

After you have these lists, then ALL of you talk it over. And yes, you do need to agree, at least for the most part, on who you’re inviting. So who’s on the lists? Immediate family, well hopefully you already know each other’s immediate family. If not, you will really soon! Sort-of-distant family. Ok, we got that. And those people who will get really mad at you if they’re not invited, but someone else is. Family Feud may be a game show on TV, but it can really rear its scary head during the preparing of the wedding guest list! Aunt Sylvia is invited but Cousin Harold isn’t? You’ll never hear the end of it! Or your mom and her cousin haven’t spoken to each other in years because of some family incident no one can even remember, but you’re still not sure an invitation should be sent…..Angry woman.

Then you have your friends. And their “significant other”. You really shouldn’t invite someone to come to a wedding by themselves. You’re going to have to try to include “and guest” on the invitation. After all, if you were in that position, wouldn’t you be upset? And remember to include the spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend in the guest count for the bridal party, too.

Now here’s another sticky area. What if one of your really good friends is now dating one of your “ex’s”? And wants to bring him/her. That could be quite interesting. For everyone. As well as uncomfortable, depending on how the relationship ended. (And whether your future spouse knows about him/her!) Hopefully you and your friend can talk it out rationally and come to a solution. Because there’s really no cookie cutter answer for this one. backthird com

And no, you shouldn’t invite your ex’s brother/sister/mom/dad, etc. no matter how much you still like them.

Then you have the acquaintances who may just assume they’re going to be invited. And keep trying to find out details about your wedding, and then they start telling you how they can’t wait until your big day! Well, neither can you! But they’re not invited. What do you do? Well, just mention you’re still working on your guest list and how big a task it’s turning out to be. Then change the subject! And don’t think that just because someone invited you and your fiancé to their wedding that you HAVE to invite them. Or if someone gives you an engagement gift without being invited to a party or shower, that doesn’t mean they have to be invited either. If you hadn’t planned on inviting them, don’t do it! That’s your decision, not theirs!girlsofwisdom

Stepfamilies are always another bit of a touchy area. If you’re in that position, and unless everyone really does get along well with each other, it’s going to take a bit of diplomacy to get through this one. And we’re only talking the inviting right now, not the seating at the ceremony and reception. That’s a whole other blog for another day!

There’s also another tricky question, and that’s whether or not you invite children. But it’s also something you’re going to have to sit down and discuss (and possibly with those who have kids that aren’t going to be allowed to bring them) because you’re always going to have someone who gets mad if they can’t bring their children. Just bear in mind that when you have a flower girl and/or ring bearer, there are children at the wedding! And you have to be careful where you draw the line! Again, that’s a whole other blog to follow shortly.james thomas long photography

And when you’re doing the food count, you should also include your pastor and his/her spouse (who may or may not attend the reception), as well as vendor meals to feed your photographer and DJ’s/band members. And the wedding planner, too! If we have time to eat anything, that is.

Sound like you’re getting ready to walk through a mine field? Well, in some cases that’s exactly what can happen! Just remember, you only have so much in your budget, and your venue only holds so many people. If you have to, use that as an excuse if someone actually has the nerve to ask why they aren’t invited. Which they might.

This is also good training for your married life ahead, because there’s going to be lots of times where you and your spouse are going to disagree and you’re going to have to compromise, and sometimes those disagreements are going to be involving both of your families!

Remember it’s YOUR wedding! The final choice is yours!

(And if all else fails, you can always elope! Then just have a big party!)lilysbridalnet

Photo Sources: 1st Row:; via etsy – 2nd Row: – 3rd Row: source unknown- 4th Row: – 5th Row: – 6th Row: – 7th Row: girlsofwisdom blog –8th Row: James Thomas Long Photography – 9th Row:

The Proposal

March 20 was National Proposal Day. Somehow we missed it until it was a bit too late to get this written and posted on Proposal Day. But better late than never, right?

We’ve heard a lot of great proposal stories….at the ball park with the announcement on the big screen (what if she’d said NO???), in Disney World with Mickey Mouse in the background, on the beach while fireworks were shooting off on the 4th of July, dropping the ring in a glass of champagne (and worrying that she’d swallow it by accident!), etc. We particularly like one in which the guy had t-shirts made for a bunch of their friends, each with a word from the phrase “I love you. Will you marry me?” and everyone putting them on at the same time and lining up while he got down on one knee. These are actually all real stories we’ve heard from friends or actually been a part of.

There are as many stories about how he proposed as there are engaged couples. Think about it. To be engaged, someone has to ask someone else. And yes, it’s almost always the guy asking the girl.

Now the trend is for someone to secretly photograph the event. Which is usually a bit tricky, because if she sees a photographer or someone with a camera and all of a sudden her boyfriend starts acting a bit strange, well it’s almost a giveaway that there’s something getting ready to go down. And usually the next step is him going down on one knee, and well, you know the rest!

I love hearing stories of how our grooms proposed. It’s one of the first questions I ask. It helps to get to know the couple better, and really gives a lot of insight into how they want their wedding to be.

The trend today for getting engaged, is not just for the guy to buy a ring and present it to her at the right time. Today a lot of proposals are very well thought out and planned in advance. Lots of wedding planners even get involved in planning proposals! While we haven’t done that yet, there’s always a first time!

But back some thirty years ago when my husband and I got engaged, these special event proposals weren’t the trend. In any way, shape or form.

But then again, I do have to say, that my husband has always been very creative, and a bit on the cutting edge, shall we say. And his proposal to me was something I never, ever expected. Sure we’d done the customary looking at a few rings (after all, we’d met at a local mall, and there were a lot of jewelry stores there), but we’d not really talked much about getting married.

The “engagement day” started out like any other typical Monday morning at my office. I was working as a property manager in the Washington, DC area then, and Monday mornings were always office days to catch up on any disasters from the weekend! Monday morning meetings weren’t unusual, either, although I didn’t know there was one scheduled that morning. And I thought my boss was in an unusually good mood, not typical for a Monday morning at all!

But I thought nothing of it. So when he came over to my desk and said we were all getting together in the conference room for a quick meeting, I didn’t think anything about it.


Imagine my surprise when I walked in, and the ENTIRE office was in there. And I was pointed to a chair in the middle of the room full of people and told to sit. Uh oh….what have I done now? Then I saw someone with a camera. I was really worried then.

All of a sudden, the door opens, and here comes a man in a white tux, complete with white bow tie and tails, a white top hat and a cane! (His name was Mr. Wonderful, and was from a company called Eastern Onion! I have a certificate saying that somewhere!) And he came over to me, asked if I were Deborah Chapman, and then said, “I have a message for you from Ben Newell.” Oh. My. Gosh! What now? And before I could even react, he started singing to me about how much Ben loved me, did some dance routine, and then got down on one knee in front of me and said Ben sent HIM to ask if I’d marry him! And he handed me this beautiful ring that we’d been looking at! Do I remember the song? Heck, no! I was in total shock, and speechless, and for those who know me well, you KNOW that is a totally unusual occurrence!

Of course there were pictures being taken, and to this day I have no earthly idea where in the world they are! I would really, really like to see them again!

He ended his routine telling me that Ben was waiting for his answer, and then bowed, and left! While I sat there in shock, and embarrassment (yes!), and wondering what I was supposed to do next, while everyone in the room was applauding and congratulating me! They’d all been in on it, and how they kept it all a secret, I have no idea.

Naturally when I walked out of the conference room, I expected Ben to be there. Well, wouldn’t you? I mean the man had just asked me to marry him! But no, he wasn’t anywhere to be found. OK. Maybe he was at my desk waiting to surprise me. No. OK.

Since it was prior to the days of cell phones and instant contact, all I could do was try to call him at his office. And of course his secretary put me through. I could tell from his voice he’d been expecting my call. And what’s the first thing I say? “Where are you?” Uh….you called me at the office so where do you think I am? “Why aren’t you here?” Why should I be? “I just got a visitor. The one you hired.”

I could hear the smile coming through the phone. “And did you like the visitor?” Of course I did! But why aren’t you here? “Well, I figured you’d call me after he left. What’s your answer?” Well, it’s yes, of course, but did you think I’d say no so you decided not to come in case I that’s what I said? And the ring is beautiful but it needs to be sized!

Oh yeah. I said that. How romantic!

But the rest is history, as the saying goes.

We both still laugh at that story, and it’s been almost thirty years. Ben was certainly ahead of his time in that one. And it’s never been a dull moment since! I may pick on him a lot, but yes, I still love him!

And I’m glad I said “YES!”

Photo Sources: 1st Row: Claire Durkin Photography via; via flickr- 2nd Row:; 3rd Row: Otta;

Adventures of a Dad at a Bridal Show

As you can very well imagine, as a part-time wedding planner, I’ve attended many, many bridal shows. Some as an exhibitor or to visit other exhibitors, and others with my brides!

A few weeks ago I actually attended one with someone who’s never been to a bridal show before. That would be my husband, the man who’s writing the checks for our daughter’s upcoming wedding! She was sick and I casually asked if he’d like to join me, and he said yes!

Hopefully not an up and coming Father-of-the-Bride “zilla”. He’s been good so far!

And yes, it was quite an adventure, because I never ever thought that almost every booth we stopped at where they didn’t know me, they’d ask us when we were getting married! Really? Well, I guess considering there weren’t many men there other than exhibitors and a few young grooms who seemed to have rather been anywhere but at a bridal show, well, maybe they were thinking they had a great opportunity for a big sale!

We probably should have started going along with them and seeing what they had to say! But we’ll leave that for another time.

If you’ve never taken a guy to a bridal show, much less your husband of almost thirty years, it really is an adventure of sorts. Especially when the first thing he does is ask the ladies at the Maya Couture Bridal booth if they have camouflage vests available with their tux rentals, because he and his future son-in-law want to wear them, even though his daughter doesn’t even want to consider it! (Of course they did, and of course that’s the first thing he said to Ashley when we got home, just so he could start something with her!)camo vest

He did like the Ice Art sculpture display and decided our bride and groom needed an ice sculpture deer rather than the carved marlin they’ve already decided on. Yes, our future son-in-law is a hunter; my husband isn’t. That isn’t stopping him! (Somehow hunting and a beach theme don’t go together too well!)

On to more vendors…fortunately he walked past the photographers since that’s already handled, but then he found the DJ booth. By the time we were through with that discussion (even though we later booked these DJ’s because of how much we all liked them!), he’d already planned part of their playlist to include Toby Keith’s “Red Solo Cup” and Blake Shelton’s “The Boys ‘Round Here”. With a bit of Toby’s “Trailerhood” thrown in for good measure! And since these DJ’s are known for their signature hats, he’s already planned to give them camo hatbands to wear….

Time for the bridal fashion show event now. (Getting him away from the vendor booths! Before he found the wedding cake display and inquired about a camo wedding cake!)

At most bridal shows there’s about half an hour of entertainment before the actual event, and of course this was no exception. Ben had never experienced the “before show” show, and he thoroughly enjoyed watching as the DJ’s selected some unsuspecting brides to go onstage and dance to some of the more popular reception songs. (Some of them were actually rather good!) And he really enjoyed their version of “The Newlywed Game”, especially when one of the DJ’s came offstage and asked the audience to ask questions, and he got to ask one!

Of course the highlight of the event for him was when they brought up some of the grooms on stage to dance! One of the “volunteers” was a gentleman probably in his late 60’s, dressed very casually in his jeans and t-shirt, and going by the name of…what else…”Junior”! Well, Junior was amazing, and easily won the contest against all the younger guys. I actually thought Ben was going to try and introduce himself to him, and see if he wanted to talk about adding camo to HIS wedding!

I have to say, though, the hubby really enjoyed the fashion show, and was actually looking at each dress trying to figure out whether Ashley would like it or not. And wondering why they didn’t give the prices out….

And, the highlight of the show was at the end when all of the models came out carrying their bouquets, and tossed them into the audience! Guess who caught one! No, not Ben…but I did! That was a first!WIth Bouquet

So…since we’re already married…maybe that calls for a vow renewal ceremony? And Ben can have his camo for that!

What are YOUR thoughts?