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Meet Nina And Jerry January 18, 2018

bride's hometown: Sinking Spring, PA

groom's hometown: Roulette, PA

current place of residence: Conshohocken, PA

bride's occupation: accountant

groom's occupation: social media specialist

proposal story: While visiting his family in picturesque Potter County, PA, Jerry took Nina for a little hike on a hill nearby. "At the top of the hill was a gorgeous view of mountains covered in fall foliage, so we decided to set his camera on the tripod and take a couple self-timer photos," Nina recalls. "After about two photos, I looked over and he was on his knee! I was so caught off guard ... and it was all caught on film."

length of engagement: one and a half years

honeymoon destination: Iceland and the Amalfi Coast of Italy

The Wedding

wedding date: June 3, 2017

ceremony and reception location: Stoltzfus Homestead & Gardens, Gordonville, PA

menu: chicken breast with a tangy bacon marmalade, marsala beef bistro tenders, and whipped sweet potatoes

a special facet of the ceremony: Nina and Jerry's good friend was able to make it home from deployment in Kuwait just in time to be the officiant for their ceremony.

first dance song: "Coming Home" by Leon Bridges

favorite decoration: "I was obsessed with my bouquet," says Nina. "The peonies, the colors, the wild leaves - so beautiful!"

favor: mini bottles of Papa Picarelli's homemade limoncello

something worth splurging on: "A venue you are in love with!" says Nina. "Although Stoltzfus Homestead wasn't that much of a splurge compared to some other places, it was worth every penny because of its fun and relaxed, yet beautiful environment," she explains, adding, "The staff there was phenomenal. We felt so at home, and the venue really made the wedding. Guests are still commenting about how beautiful it was on the Homestead."


photographer: Emily Grace Photography, Elizabethtown, PA

cupcakes: Oregon Dairy, Lititz, PA

hair and makeup: West London Salon, Intercourse, PA

catering: Artistic Foods Catering, York, PA

flowers: Pearls & Petals, Intercourse, PA

The Wedding Planner: What was the first thing you did when you began to plan your wedding? What inspired you to start there?

Nina: Besides estimating the guest count, shopping for venues was first! We felt that everything else - decor, theme, vibe, etc. - would mold around that.

TWP: How did you incorporate the tastes and personalities of both the bride and the groom into the wedding?

Nina: We both just love being outdoors, so we were thrilled to find a venue with a lot of outdoor space and also beautiful indoor space. It allowed us to incorporate a little bit of what we each wanted. For me: elements of nature and home - a mix of bright and pastel flowers, comfort food, and photos of the family. For Jerry: outdoor activities such as cornhole and a fire pit with s'mores.

TWP: What did you find to be the biggest challenge in planning a wedding?

Nina: Working with your budget.

TWP: What is the most important piece of advice you have for other brides and grooms planning a wedding?

Nina: It's probably been said a million times, but just have fun and try not to stress too much! Focus on the few things that are truly important to you and don't sweat the small stuff. I kept on reminding myself that the guests at our wedding are our closest friends and family ... if something didn't go perfectly right or if it didn't look like photos out of a high-end wedding magazine, they would not judge us (if they even noticed). What matters the most to everybody who matters is having fun celebrating love.

Photos by Emily Grace Photography,


Meet Sierra And Shane January 18, 2018

bride's hometown: Manheim, PA -

groom's hometown: Manheim, PA

current place of residence: Manheim, PA

bride's occupation: administrative assistant and student

groom's occupation: landscaper

how they met: Sierra and Shane went to high school together and started dating during their senior year.

proposal story: Each Memorial Day weekend, Shane, Sierra, and Shane's family camp at a place called the Spring House in Juniata County. The highlight of the trip is canoeing down the Juniata River, and as Shane and Sierra were canoeing, Shane asked to pull over so they could stretch their legs. As they walked along the river, Shane stopped, got down on one knee, and proposed. But that wasn't the only surprise for Sierra. "My whole family and his whole family were standing behind trees taking photos of us," Sierra recalls.

length of engagement: 11 months

honeymoon destination: Majestic Elegance in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

The Wedding

wedding date: May 20, 2017

ceremony and reception location: Lakefield Weddings, Manheim, PA

wedding colors: blush pink, gold, and champagne

menu: beef brisket, cheesy potatoes, and fruit salad

cake: chocolate and vanilla cake with buttercream icing

first dance song: "You & I," which was customized by the bride and groom and was sung by a friend

favorite decoration: Sierra bought rustic doors off the Lancaster wedding yard sale Facebook page and painted "Love Never Fails" across the top for guests to see as they walked in.

favor: four kinds of homemade jelly made by the bride's family

something worth splurging on: photographer


photography: Janae Rose Photography LLC, Myerstown, PA

cake: Cake and Cup Bake Shoppe, Lititz, PA

food: SEI Catering, Lititz, PA

bride's dress: Country Threads by Gail, Manheim, PA

decorations: Lancaster wedding yard sale page on Facebook

florist: Elm Family Flowers, Manheim, PA

The Wedding Planner: What was the first thing you did when you began to plan your wedding? What inspired you to start there?

Sierra: The first thing we did was pick the venue, which was probably the most fun part. The venue we had was beautiful, and it was the first one we looked at. I was inspired to do this first because it was our biggest expense and it was getting booked very quickly.

TWP: How did you select the bride's dress, the groom's attire, and the outfits of the members of the wedding party?

Sierra: I really did not have any idea as to what I wanted my dress to look like, but one night while driving home from work, I saw my dress in the window of a local dress shop and knew right away that was the dress for me. I called the next morning and bought it.

Pinterest helped me a lot with picking out the groom's attire, and I pretty much let it up to my husband-to-be to choose. After he chose what he liked, we could decide on the bridal party.

For the bridesmaids' dresses, each girl bought her own dress at the store of her choice.

TWP: What is the most important piece of advice you have for other brides and grooms planning a wedding?

Sierra: Enjoy each moment of the wedding planning process, because it will fly by.

Photos by Janae Rose Photography LLC,


Meet Meena And Josh January 18, 2018

bride's hometown: Brooklyn, NY

groom's hometown: Media, PA

current place of residence: Brooklyn, NY

bride's occupation: middle school technology integrator

groom's occupation: high school guidance counselor

how they met: The couple met while teaching in Brooklyn. Meena was an art teacher, and Josh taught high school teenagers in special education. Josh flirted with her for a full year without receiving much of a response. Finally, he got his friends to convince Meena to go out one night in Alphabet City, and he joked his way into her heart.

proposal story: Josh surprised Meena with a proposal in a park in San Francisco. The couple was on a West Coast road trip for two weeks, and Josh popped the question on the first night of the trip. It was a complete surprise until Meena noticed that Josh was having a hard time breathing and was acting strangely, and she realized what was about to happen. At that very moment, a photographer Josh had hired popped out of the bushes and captured the moment.

length of engagement: almost two years

honeymoon destination: "Josh and I are lucky to enjoy our summers off together as educators," Meena remarks. "We enjoyed six weeks of adventure, romance, and sweaty heat in Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam."

The Wedding

wedding date: June 24, 2017

ceremony and reception location: Historic Acres of Hershey, Elizabethtown, PA

wedding colors: "We chose to focus on vibrant colors like yellows and oranges for the ceremony and bright flowers with an organic flow for the reception," explains Meena. "We wanted our wedding to look different, not like the traditional 'all-white wedding.'"

wedding theme: colorful, vibrant, bright

bride's bouquet: fuchsia stock, delphinium, yellow button poms, white bouvardia, purple tulips, orange

spray roses, purple freesia, pink astilbe, burgundy garden roses, plumosa fern, olive branch, and seeded


the ceremony: A Hindu priest performed the ceremony and read from ancient Vedic scriptures.

the menu: signature cocktails, a specialty keg, three wedding cake flavors, and an ice cream sundae bar

cake: a two-layer sheer red velvet cake

first dance song: ortoPilot cover of "Grow Old With You"

favorite decoration: wooden farm tables

something worth splurging on: travel and experiences


photographer: Emily Grace Photography, Elizabethtown, PA

bride's dress: RK Bridal, New York, NY

tuxedo rental: The Tux Shop, Bayonne, NJ

hair and makeup: Bombshell Brides, Hershey, PA

traditional Indian sari draping for bride and bridesmaids: Deluxe Hair and Beauty Salon, Mechanicsburg

ceremony pergola flower design, farm table garlands, and hanging mason jars: Roots Cut

Flower Farm, Carlisle, PA

bridal and bridal party bouquets: Royer's Flowers & Gifts

carnation ceremony garlands and reception centerpieces: Wegmans Floral Design

antique furniture styling: Swoon Vintage Rental, Hummelstown, PA

catering: Passage to India, Harrisburg, PA

wedding cake: Rosie's Creative Cakes, Manheim, PA

ice cream sundae bar: Leo's Homemade Ice Cream, Carlisle, PA

specialty keg: Tröegs Independent Brewing, Hershey, PA

servers and food cleanup: MACK Employment Services

hotels: Red Lion Hotel Harrisburg Hershey, Harrisburg, PA, and Sheraton Harrisburg Hershey Hotel, Harrisburg, PA

transportation: Rohrer Bus, Duncannon, PA

The Wedding Planner: What was the first thing you did when you began to plan your wedding? What inspired you to start there?

Meena: The first thing we did was to find venues. We knew our wedding was most likely going to be outside New York City. We looked for a venue that that had an open feel and included a lot of green space, something we knew we wouldn't be able to find in NYC.

Josh was totally a "groomzilla" when we began wedding planning. He did hours of research on venues and wanted to talk about it often. Little did I know how helpful that was going to be. (Thank you, Josh!) He made a spreadsheet with the maximum number of guests we could have at each venue, the number of hours at the venue included in the rental, and a list of items that were included at each venue (because tables and chairs were not always included in the rental). I poked fun at Josh for being SO into the planning; meanwhile, I was clueless where to begin. I am so glad we got a head start on the venue search because of him.

TWP: How did you select your dresses and the outfits of the members of the wedding party?

Meena: I loved picking out my dresses; I had two outfit changes. Traditionally, Indian wedding ceremonies and the reception are not held on the same day, but we decided we wanted all wedding festivities on the same day, which meant we both had to change for the reception. We both knew we wanted to have fun with our outfits and we didn't want the "traditional" look. I knew I did not want to adhere to the traditional pure red outfit for the ceremony. Instead, I looked for an outfit that included a lot of pink, which is my favorite color, and had a regal, elegant, and sophisticated feel. As soon as I tried on my outfit, I knew it was the one.

I purchased my ceremony outfit first and then looked for my white reception dress about five months before our wedding date. I went to RK Bridal in New York City and loved my experience there. I went by myself for the first appointment and tried on a few gowns. I fell in love with the first wedding dress I tried on! That same day, I tried on several other dresses with different shapes and cuts and took photos of my favorite ones and texted them to my friends. They were eager to see the dresses in person, so a few weeks later, I asked them to come with me to choose the dress. Everyone had a different opinion of what they liked on me. In the end, I was glad I chose what I liked. I knew immediately that the dress complemented my petite figure and was elegant, and - most of all - the train wouldn't get in the way of me dancing.

Josh and I are super laid back, so we asked our closest friends to choose outfits they would feel comfortable in and would flatter them. The groomsmen wore handsome suits, and the bridesmaids wore beautiful, flattering dresses they could dance in all night.

Josh and I loved the outfits we chose. They were very flattering, and we have received so many compliments.

TWP: How did you incorporate the tastes and personalities of both the bride and the groom into the wedding?

Meena: Since we had a long engagement, we had ample time to put a lot of thought into different aspects of the wedding. We used our strengths to make large decisions about decor, food, and design. I used my creative art background to design the mandap (pergola) for the ceremony. Josh was in charge of choosing the food, beverages, and desserts.

TWP: What did you find to be the biggest challenge in planning a wedding?

Meena: The biggest challenge as a couple was creating a wedding that was our vision. It was challenging to respond to questions from family about why we weren't adhering to "traditional" wedding expectations.

TWP: What is the most important piece of advice you have for other brides and grooms planning a wedding?

Meena: Consider the importance of all the decisions you make. Don't sweat the small stuff.

Photos by Emily Grace Photography,


Meet Jaimie And James January 18, 2018

bride's hometown: Washington Township, NJ

groom's hometown: Washington Township, NJ

current place of residence: Gaithersburg, MD

bride's occupation: lieutenant in United States Navy (nurse)

groom's occupation: electrical engineer

how they met: Jaimie and Jim knew each other through mutual friends in high school and college and often hung out in the same group, but never talked much. After graduating from college, they both went to a concert featuring The Black Keys with mutual friends and ended up talking all night. The next day, they both asked a mutual friend about each other. Jim got Jaimie's phone number and asked her out to dinner - the rest is history!

proposal story: Jim told Jaimie to take the weekend off for a "surprise getaway" and took her to Asheville, North Carolina, to the Biltmore Estate. After a day of horseback riding and touring the property, they hiked up a small hill to a bench overlooking the Biltmore Mansion, where Jim popped the question.

length of engagement: a year and a half

honeymoon destination: Reykjavik, Iceland

The Wedding

wedding date: October 29, 2016-

ceremony and reception location: Ironstone Ranch, Elizabethtown, PA

wedding colors: gray, plum, and burnt orange

wedding theme: rustic, farm

the menu: dual entree dinner service of stuffed chicken breast and sliced pork tenderloin, grilled root vegetables, and whipped sweet potatoes

cake: a small pumpkin cake with cream cheese icing for the bride and groom to do a cake cutting, as well as several fall-themed desserts: caramel apple cheesecake bars, buckeye brownies, pumpkin whoopie pies, and mini chocolate-covered pretzel cupcakes. There was also a s'mores station at the fire pit outside.

flowers: wheat, lavender, ivory wildflowers, orange ranunculus, and purple limonium

special readings included in ceremony: Ecclesiastes 4:12

first dance song: "Home" by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

favorite design element: "Our venue was beautiful enough without having to add a lot," Jaimie and Jim note. "We complemented it with just a little bit of personal touch to really bring out its magnificence."

favor: a small burlap bag of candy filled with Wilbur Buds (since the wedding was held in Lancaster County, PA) and Sixlets in the wedding colors

something worth splurging on: "Entertainment!" say Jaimie and Jim. "Our band was amazing, and the dance floor was always packed!"


photographer: Encompass Photography (now called Quintay Creative), Philadelphia, PA

catering, cake, and desserts: C&J Catering, Harrisburg, PA

decorations and flowers: C&J Catering, Harrisburg, PA

bride's dress: Maggie Sottero

bridesmaids' dresses: Weddington Way

groom and groomsmen's suits: Men's Wearhouse

entertainment: Bachelor Boys Band

hair: Studio D Salon, Wormleysburg, PA

makeup: Maggie King Makeup Artistry, York, PA

The Wedding Planner: What was the first thing you did when you began to plan your wedding? What inspired you to start there?

Jaimie and Jim: We first sought out venues. Jaimie's love for horses always made her want to be married on a farm and have the horse-and-carriage fairytale wedding. Being a good husband-to-be, Jim wanted to do whatever would make her happy! We knew that once we found the venue, everything else would fall into place around that.

TWP: How did you select the bride's dress, the groom's attire, and the outfits of the members of the wedding party?

Jaimie: For my dress, I knew that I wanted something simple, yet elegant - that's always been my style. My mom flew out to visit, and just the two of us went dress shopping. I wanted it to be a special moment between us. I had picked out several dresses online to try on, but once we got to the boutique, the saleswoman brought out the dress I ultimately chose. I didn't need to try on any others after that!

We picked the color scheme after Pinterest-ing and decided on plum and gray with burnt orange accents. I wanted my bridesmaids to have some freedom with their dresses to allow them to feel confident. With bridesmaids scattered throughout the country, they weren't all able to get together to try on dresses at the same time. Weddington Way made it possible to order dresses online and also offered different styles for them to choose from. All of the girls were happy with the process and the ability to be unique and wear something they really loved.

The guys were easy; once we chose gray as the suit color, they simply showed up at Men's Wearhouse and let the staff show them the options. Jim was able to show off his personality with fun purple socks and a pocket square.

TWP: How did you incorporate the tastes and personalities of both the bride and the groom into the wedding?

Jaimie and Jim: With every decision, whoever was "researching" it would find several options that they liked. We would then discuss the options with each other and make a mutual decision. We have very similar tastes, so it wasn't very hard to compromise!

TWP: What did you find to be the biggest challenge in planning a wedding?

Jaimie and Jim: The biggest challenge was probably feeling like we had to please everyone (parents, other members of the bridal party, etc.) when it came to decisions surrounding the wedding. But, at the end of the day, we always came back to the fact that it was OUR wedding and should be a reflection of us.


TWP: What is the most important piece of advice you have for other brides and grooms planning a wedding?

Jaimie and Jim: Create a timeline for planning and stick to it! Having all of the big things out of the way early will allow you time to take care of the million little things that will pop up toward the end that you never would have thought about.

Photos by Encompass Photography (now called Quintay Creative),


Meet Brittany And Zachary January 18, 2018

bride's hometown: Havertown, PA

groom's hometown: Newville, PA

current place of residence: Reading, PA

bride's occupation: environmental scientist

groom's occupation: engineering teacher

how they met: Zach and Brittany had the same last name, so when Zach Potter transferred from Shippensburg University to Millersville University for his sophomore year of college, one of his friends from high school introduced him to her friend Brittany Potter, "because the Potters should meet!"

proposal story: Zach proposed to Brittany alongside the Niagara Falls in Canada on their 10-year anniversary, after they had dinner in the Skylon Tower. Zach gave Brittany his maternal grandmother's solitaire diamond ring, circa mid- to late-1940s. Niagara Falls already had special significance, as Brittany and Zach had taken a trip there when they first started dating. They also visited Niagara Falls to celebrate their first anniversary a year later.

length of engagement: 16 months

honeymoon destination: Camp Cabarita Eco Resort in Glenbrook, Jamaica, and Couples Swept Away Resort in Negril, Jamaica

The Wedding

wedding date: March 25, 2017

ceremony and reception location: The Inn at Reading, Wyomissing, PA

a little help from their friends: Brittany and Zach have personal ties to many of the vendors who helped with their wedding. Alana Berry, who is the owner of Bow & Arrow Calligraphy and Design and designed their invitations, is the mutual friend who first introduced them in college. Additionally, the musician teaches with Zach; the disc jockey coached football with Zach; the son and daughter-in-law of the florist who created the corsages, boutonnieres, and rose arrangements work with Zach and are friends of the couple; the salon owner's husband is one of Brittany's co-workers; and Brittany and Zach also knew the vendor from whom they purchased the dried flowers used in centerpieces and other decorations, as well as the vendor from whom they purchased their beverage cozy favors.

invitations: "Our invitations were extra special to me, because in addition to Alana's design, my aunt attached unique pockets to the back of each invitation to hold the RSVP postcard," Brittany says. "My aunt and I went through her 30-plus years of cardstock and unique papers to pick out the pocket patterns - different textures, colors, designs were used."

wedding colors: purple/lavender, yellow, and blue

wedding theme: ballroom DIY

the menu: homestyle meals featuring cornbread-stuffed chicken, meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and veggies

cake: chocolate

bride's bouquet: Brittany thought of a special twist for her bouquet. "My bouquet was made of flowers given to me by my best girlfriends," she explains. "I sent them a handmade card in the mail asking them to bring a flower. This way, they could be beside me during the ceremony. Some ladies asked me what I wanted, but I refused to say anything! I just told them that they know me and that I would enjoy anything - wooden, silk, real, fake. Whatever they chose! I was given two artificial flowers, lilies, bird of paradise, and roses, among other flowers. There was a good amount of orange, yellow, and purple - my favorite colors."

centerpieces: Each table had a slab of tree trunk cut by Zach's dad with a dried flower display of either high or low height, a recycled wine bottle with a saying on it and the table number extending out of the top, and small soy candles that Brittany poured herself in second-hand or reused containers. The low tables had small white vases of yarrow and clear vases of lavender with river rocks; the high tables had one bigger vase with yarrow, lavender, eucalyptus, and blue globe thistle.

special readings included in ceremony: a Native American wedding blessing, a Dr. Seuss quote called "We Are All a Little Weird," and Shel Silverstein's poem "Happy Endings"

first dance song: "Harvest Moon" by Neil Young performed by Berks County musician Mike Noecker on guitar and vocals

favor: personalized drink cozies

something worth splurging on: "Music," says Brittany, who explained that the disc jockey and live musician helped to make the event flow. "We didn't plan on having a DJ until we realized we knew a DJ! In hindsight, we would have had a totally different night if we didn't have him to announce the first dance, dinner time, etc.," Brittany explains. "Our live musician also helped a great deal with welcoming everyone, getting them ready for the ceremony, and keeping everyone informed."


photography: White Willow Photography, New Holland, PA

cake: The Inn at Reading's bakery, Wyomissing, PA

invitation design: Bow & Arrow Calligraphy and Design, Lancaster, PA

live music: Michael Noecker, Reading, PA

disc jockey: Scott Troutman, Reading, PA

bride's second dress: Agnes Edmunds Bridal and Formal, Pottstown, PA

fresh flowers (corsages and boutonnieres, as well as the rose arrangements around hurricane lamps): Color It Green, Reading, PA

dried flowers for centerpieces and venue decorations: purchased in bulk from Right Choice USA, Reading, PA

salon: Salon Styles, Wyomissing, PA

makeup: Roxy Jackson

The Wedding Planner: What was the first thing you did when you began to plan your wedding? What inspired you to start there?

Brittany: We picked a general location. In our case, we ended up ruling out having the wedding outdoors in Zach's parents' backyard, which was a bit to our surprise because I always thought we'd get married in their yard. We decided to have the wedding indoors in Reading somewhere. Once we did this, any time of year became an option, not just warmer months. Next we had to pick a date (in part because every venue was surprised we didn't have a date picked), which kind of happened simultaneously with picking a venue. We kept bouncing around ideas and thoughts about any wedding topic/aspect, but nothing actually started getting planned until we picked a date.

TWP: How did you select the bride's dress, the groom's attire, and the outfits of the members of the wedding party?

Brittany: My gram's dress fit my personality and was in good shape - not to mention that I adore my grandmother. I didn't even really need to decide; I just knew before we were even engaged that I'd wear her dress. A second dress made sense so I wouldn't party in the antique dress and rip it or spill on it. I wore my great-grandmother's diamond earrings and my mom's bracelet.

Zach picked his suit, purple tie, yellow socks, and pocket square. His cousin, who is a metal artist, crafted French cufflinks for him using a mold of his late sister's ring as a way to memorialize her on our special day. His boutonniere was a pink rose in honor of his sister, Melissa, and there was a pink rose among all white roses in the flowers our sisters carried down the aisle, in honor of Melissa also. We let my sister and Ana, Zach's sister whom his parents adopted from Guatemala, pick their dresses.

TWP: What was your favorite design element of the wedding?

Brittany: Our ceremony space and the Adirondack chair photo op with our guests; my uncle made the chairs for us. We decorated our ceremony space with curtain lights and shepherd hooks with different items (dream catchers, lanterns, and candles). The aisle was shaped by battery-operated tea lights, and our guests gathering on the dance floor. My gram, whose dress I wore, was wheeled down the aisle, and everyone cheered for her! My cousin carried a lantern down the aisle and placed it on a hook. Our sisters carried antique pewter hurricane lamps with candlesticks in them, surrounded by roses, and then placed them on a table that was beside where Zach and I stood for the ceremony. When my dad and I walked in, everyone was cheering! It was a lot of fun and light-hearted. I couldn't have imagined it any better.

After the procession, the lights were picked up and everyone gathered closely around the riser we stood on. This was amazing and intimate, even though we had about 175 guests. We did not have an officiant; rather, we did the ceremony ourselves. It was similar to a Quaker wedding, but we are not Quaker so we did not overly emphasis this, but we did acknowledge that it is the Quaker heritage in Pennsylvania that made it legal for us the get married that way. Zach and I each needed one witness, but we had everyone sign a copy of our marriage certificate, which was blown up, matted, and placed on an easel for our guests to sign.

TWP: How did you incorporate the tastes and personalities of both the bride and the groom into the wedding?

Brittany: Because it was DIY, I think our personalities were all over the wedding. Zach is a carpenter, and we used wood slices in the centerpieces. I love dried flowers, so I used them for all of the centerpieces and decorations. We are very conscious of recycling and not wasting, so all of the vases we used were from second-hand stores or family members; I poured all of the candles into recycled jars/containers. The decorated wine bottles incorporated into the centerpieces were also recycled. We also picked our wedding colors together. Lastly, I think it was really fun and special that we knew almost all of our vendors.

TWP: What did you find to be the biggest challenge in planning a wedding?

Brittany: Staying organized and focused! Also, agonizing over the details because we did not purchase a package.

TWP: What is the most important piece of advice you have for other brides and grooms planning a wedding?

Brittany: Work together and STAY POSITIVE. Do not discuss too much at one sitting or force discussions. Zach and I decided that either of us could say we were "full up" or saturated with the wedding talk in any given night of discussions. (Usually he reached saturation before I did!) Also, remember the end goal and that it is about the two of you, not what others want.

Photos by White Willow Photography,


Meet Paige And Evan November 28, 2017

bride's hometown: Hummelstown, PA

groom's hometown: Manchester, PA

current place of residence: Royersford, PA

bride's occupation: worship arts coordinator

groom's occupation: underwriting associate CL

how they met: The couple first met at Stillmeadow Church of the Nazarene in York, PA, where Paige was a worship intern and Evan helped lead the church's young adult small group. Both Paige and Evan helped with the middle school/high school youth group, and Paige recalls being impressed by how much the students respected Evan and how invested he was in their lives.

proposal story: On the couple's four-month anniversary, they went to see "Moses" at Sight & Sound Theatres and then stopped at the same Dunkin Donuts where they'd had their first date. Sitting at the same table they sat at on their first date, Evan presented Paige with a box with a light blue stuffed heart in it that said "Be Mine." After Paige picked up the stuffed heart, she saw another, smaller box beneath it that contained a ring. After Evan proposed and Paige accepted, they went to Paige's house, where friends and family members threw them a surprise engagement party.

length of engagement: one year, to the day

honeymoon destination: Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas

The Wedding

wedding date: February 20, 2016

ceremony location: St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Red Lion, PA

reception location: The Hotel Hershey in Hershey, PA

wedding colors: light pinks, peach, black and white stripes, and gold glitter

wedding theme: romantic and classy

the menu: buffet featuring chicken, cocoa-marinated beef, mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables, a salad bar, different kinds of cheeses, the groom's mother's famous punch, Hershey's peanut butter chocolate pie, assorted macaroons and petit fours, and a hot chocolate and coffee bar

wedding cake: lemon cake with raspberry filling and buttercream icing. Each tier was a different design and color: The bottom two layers were different shades of pink to match the bridesmaids' dresses, the third layer had a black and white striped design, and the top was a gold dusted layer with a "To the Moon and Back" cake topper. "Evan and I would say that phrase all throughout our relationship and engagement, and we incorporated that design element throughout our wedding," explains Paige.

flowers: pink cabbage roses, baby's breath, lily of the valley, stephanotis, and white orchids

first dance song: "Come What May" from the movie "Moulin Rouge" sung by Mr. Brennan and Mandi Bell, friends of the groom

favorite element of the reception: a tie between the choreographed mashup father/daughter dance featuring "What A Wonderful World," "The Twist," "Stayin' Alive," "Billy Jean," and "Shake It Off" and the beautifully designed sweetheart table

favors: a Hershey's candy bar in honor, as well as a doughnut from Dunkin Donuts in Hershey in honor of where Evan and Paige had their first date and got engaged

one thing worth splurging on: music. "We wanted to make sure we had a live jazz band that could play music that would capture the feel of our wedding as well as express our taste in music," says Paige.

advice for other brides and grooms planning a wedding: Make sure you take time to take a break from all the planning and invest in your significant other.

Vendors Used

wedding planner: Susan Moran of That's It! Wedding Concepts LLC, Mechanicsburg, PA

photographer: Tennison Photography, Lancaster, PA (or Tennison Commercial Photography )

videographer: Lavon Films, Lancaster, PA

cake and catering: The Hotel Hershey, Hershey, PA

bride's dress: POSH Bridal Shop, Lancaster, PA

decorations and lighting: Shumaker PDT, Lancaster, PA

flowers: Blooms By Vickrey, Camp Hill, PA

rings: The Jewelers Bench Inc., Hershey, PA

invitations, place cards, programs, and special signage: Persnickety Invitation Studio, York, PA

reception music: David Leonhardt Jazz Group, Easton, PA

hair and makeup: Shelbi Harmes Expressions, Akron, PA

limousine and bus: Premiere #1 Limousine Service, Middletown, PA

church vocalist: mezzosoprano Gwendolyn Bowers, Palmyra, PA

organist: Shawn Gingrich, Hershey PA

harpist: Louis Lynch, Camp Hill, PA

church reception: Linda Bish, Mount Joy, PA

photobooth: Mixed-Up Productions, Harrisburg, PA

bridesmaids' dresses: David's Bridal

groom and groomsmen's suits: Jos. A. Bank

dance lessons: PA DanceSport Ballroom, Hummelstown, PA

The Wedding Planner: What was the first thing you did when you began to plan your wedding? What inspired you to start there?

Paige: The very first thing that my mom and I did together was to book The Hotel Hershey for my reception venue. Ever since I was a little girl, I dreamed of having my reception at The Hotel Hershey, where my family would go every year for Christmas brunch. It was a dream come true to be able to have it there!

I have been in several weddings, so I knew that organization is key! That being said, I knew that I could not plan a long-distance wedding on my own, since I was in Philadelphia and the wedding was in Hershey, so my mother and I decided to invest in a top-notch wedding planner, Susan Moran from That's It! Wedding Concepts LLC, who pulled off the wedding of my dreams and kept everything and everyone organized.

TWP: How did you select the bride's dress, the groom's attire and the outfits of the members of the wedding party?

Paige: I found my dream dress at POSH Bridal in Lancaster, PA. I was open to trying a vast variety of dresses, but there were a few elements that I knew the dress must have: a sleeveless design, a sweetheart neckline, chiffon material, and lots of sparkles. When I first tried on my dress, I liked it a lot but decided to keep trying some other dresses. But, when I tried the dress on for a second time, I knew without a doubt that that was my dress. I also liked the back of another dress that had horsehair-like material laced with sparkly gems, and I was able to have that incorporated in my dress as the train/bustle. I also chose a sparkly belt to accent the hourglass shape of the dress. I chose my Betsey Johnson shoes from David's Bridal because I love high heels and they were very sparkly!

For Evan and the groomsmen, we chose Jos. A. Bank because of its wide selection of suits and color choices and because of its many convenient locations. All of the groomsmen wore darker gray suits, while Evan wore a light gray suit that made him stand out. We also wanted the guys to wear plain white dress shirts and brown dress shoes. Evan provided skinny black-and-white checked ties as the groom's gift as well as various crazy socks that described each groomsman.

I gave the bridesmaids the freedom to choose any style dress that would be flattering on them and that would make them feel beautiful and that they could wear again! I chose David's Bridal because of its color choices, wide variety of dress styles, and affordability. I chose four specific colors in the pink and peach spectrum and told the girls that they could choose any dress as long as it was one of the four colors. For the accessories, I gave the girls complete freedom to choose whatever they wanted as long as it was gold and sparkly. My gift to the girls was whatever hairstyles they would like.

TWP: How did you incorporate the tastes and personalities of both the bride and the groom into the wedding?

Paige: To Evan and me, the most important element that we incorporated into every part of our wedding was our relationship with Jesus. From the choice of music for the ceremony to the groomsmen's and bridesmaids' speeches, we wanted everyone to know that we love each other and that we love the Lord.

One special element I wanted in the ceremony was a time of prayer where both families and any pastors who were attending would come up and pray over our marriage. The Rev. Delbert Bieber, who married my parents, led the family and pastoral prayer during the ceremony. Also, Evan's pastor, the Rev. Dr. Bayse Reedy, and my pastor, the Rev. William Russell, both co-officiated the service and married us. These three men have a very special place in my heart, and they were an integral part of making our wedding day so special.


Meet Megan And Austin January 24, 2017

bride's hometown: York, PA

groom's hometown: York, PA

current place of residence: Dallastown, PA

bride's occupation: special education teacher at Central York School District

groom's occupation: global learning development associate at McCormick & Co.

how they met: Megan and Austin first met as fifth-graders at North Hills Elementary in Central York School District. They grew up hanging around with the same friends and playing sports. During senior year, Austin asked Megan to go to the prom with him, and the two began dating during the remaining part of the school year and continued their relationship throughout college at Penn State University and Lebanon Valley College.

proposal story: Austin had been intending to propose during two different adventures he planned. Unfortunately, as a teacher, Megan had picked up a bug at school and got very sick, and Austin had to cancel his plans two weekends in a row. Undeterred, he planned a trip to see the lights and flowers at Longwood Gardens when Megan was feeling better, and the two spent the evening walking around Longwood Gardens and enjoying the sights. Right before they were about to leave, Austin asked a woman to take their picture in the conservatory, and as she was taking the photo, he got down on one knee and proposed.

length of engagement: a year and a half

honeymoon destination: Sandals Grande Resort in Antigua

The Wedding

wedding date: June 18, 2016

ceremony and reception location: Wyndridge Farm, Dallastown, PA

wedding colors: coral and gold

wedding theme: rustic chic

the menu: house salad, raspberry sorbet, free-range chicken or flank steak with garlic herb mashed potatoes and grilled lemon butter asparagus

wedding cake: vanilla, plus cupcakes in the flavors of raspberry, chocolate with peanut butter, vanilla, and carrot cake with cream cheese icing

favorite food items: the appetizers during cocktail hour - spring rolls, crab and asparagus mini quiche, rosemary and basil flatbread, and pork sliders

flowers: baby's breath, orange roses, curly willow, gold/orange cockscomb, raspberry pods, green succulents, peach hypericum berry, coral gerbera, and gold crespedia

favorite design element: the historic barn at Wyndridge where the reception took place with the simple decor

first dance song: "Mean to Me" by Brett Eldredge

favor: Since Austin works at McCormick, the couple gave each guest a test tube filled with a unique spice from his company. They attached a sign that read, "Thanks for spicing up our special day."

one thing worth splurging on: venue


photography: Chad Lippiatt Photo, Glen Rock, PA

cake: The Flour Child, Columbia, PA

disc jockey: Ray Thomas, Carlisle, PA

bride's dress: Lilla's Bridal Boutique, York, PA

bridesmaids' dresses: David's Bridal, York, PA

groom/groomsmen's attire: Jos. A. Bank, York, PA

florist: Lincolnway Flower Shop, York, PA

decorations: all do-it-yourself, using supplies from Etsy, Joann Fabric & Craft Stores, wholesale florists, and antique


hair: Salon Nouveau, York, PA

makeup: Brandi Hill Makeup Artist, Emigsville, PA

catering: Wyndridge Farm, Dallastown, PA

The Wedding Planner: What was the first thing you did when you began to plan your wedding? What inspired you to start there?

Megan: The first thing we did was to create a list of how many guests we would be asking to the wedding. This gave us a concrete idea of what venues we could look at and also what questions to ask the venues when we visited based upon the number of guests we would potentially be having. That helped narrow our venue search and provide clarity.

TWP: How did you select the bride's dress, the groom's attire, and the outfits of the members of the wedding party?

Megan: I was very specific that I wanted something unique and different on the bottom of my dress. When we went looking, I asked several consultants to show me dresses that would fit this qualification. I went to two dress shops and ended up at Lilla's. The dress I chose was the very first dress they put me in at Lilla's! I started to cry when I had it on, and my family was teary too!

We wanted something classic and timeless for the boys. We selected Jos. A. Bank because of their quality and also their ability to connect with our groomsmen who lived various places in the United States. We chose black suits with white shirts and black ties, because it complemented the girls' dresses very well.

I wanted unique and different bridesmaids' dresses that you wouldn't traditionally see. We went to two shops in Hershey and Lancaster and ended up back in York at David's Bridal, where we found the gold sequin dress that I was in love with. I saw it online and at other stores and it was too pricey, but David's had the look and price just right!

TWP: How did you incorporate the tastes and personalities of both the bride and the groom into the wedding?

Megan: Austin and I are very simple and hands-on when it comes to making things our own. We did all the decorations on our own, gave favors unique to Austin's line of work, had our pastor incorporate many personal stories and connections into our ceremony, and finally we just let the beauty of Wyndridge speak for itself. We love rustic places, and the restored barn and outdoor wedding venue took your breath away, so simple decor was all we needed!

TWP: What did you find to be the biggest challenge in planning a wedding?

Megan: Communication with the bridal party was a challenge, because of the members living in all different places. We found it helpful to share Google Docs or emails with them to keep them informed and on top of things like getting their outfits altered.

TWP: What is the most important piece of advice you have for other brides and grooms planning a wedding?

Megan: Create a spreadsheet or organizational list with all of your vendors and information on it to provide you with easy access in one place for all parties involved to be able to see. Plan ahead! It's a wonderful thing not feeling stressed two months before your wedding because everything was all taken care of and booked early.


Meet Emily And Chris January 24, 2017

bride's hometown: Lancaster, PA

groom's hometown: New Castle, PA

current place of residence: Mount Joy, PA

bride's occupation: contact center specialist

groom's occupation: yard jockey

how they met: Emily and Chris were first introduced by mutual friends at a Halloween costume party. "We were two of the only attendees not in costume and later found out that we both worked part-time at the same bar," recalls Emily.

proposal story: While sightseeing on a family vacation in Muncy Valley, Sullivan County, Chris professed his love and devotion atop High Knob Overlook in the Endless Mountain Range, knelt down, and popped the question. "Shut up!" was Emily's response. Chris waited a few moments and asked, "Well, will you?" and Emily, of course, finally said, "Yes!"

length of engagement: 13 months

honeymoon destination: Rather than taking a traditional honeymoon, the couple treated Chris' mother, who was visiting from Montana, and Chris' son to a week in Ocean City, MD.

The Wedding

wedding date: July 3, 2016

ceremony location: Breezyview Overlook, Columbia, PA

reception location: Perfect Settings (owned by Daisy Pagan), Columbia, PA

wedding colors: beige and blue

wedding theme: elegant peacock

menu: mini crab cakes, beef bruschetta, cheese and fruit tray, roast beef, vegetable lasagna, broiled lemon pepper haddock, side salad, spiced carrots with apples and raisins, steamed asparagus, wild rice, and roasted Parmesan red potatoes

cake: a four-tiered cake, with two tiers of chocolate with peanut butter filling and two tiers of white cake with strawberry fruit filling

flowers: white roses, white ranunculus, and purple and Malibu blue orchids. "Half of the centerpieces were tall, live curly willows, and the other half were short white hydrangeas," Emily says.

first dance song: "Only You Can Love Me This Way" by Keith Urban

special elements included in the ceremony: a sand ceremony to include Chris' son, Malachi; a special Bible reading by Emily's grandmother, Claire Storm; and a blessing over the meal by Emily's grandfather, Albert Storm

favorite element: "It's impossible to choose favorites!" exclaims Emily.

favor: peacock feather bottle opener and/or wine bottle stopper

one thing worth splurging on: photography


photographer: Emily Grace Photography, Elizabethtown, PA

music (ceremony and reception): DJ Fade (Jere Lefever) of Fade Productions, Lancaster, PA

flowers: Floral Designs of Mount Joy, Mount Joy, PA

officiant: Renee Heller, Celebrant, Lancaster, PA

day-of coordination: Daisy Pagan of Perfect Settings, Columbia, PA

hairstylist for bride and bridesmaids: Ashlie Clapper of Kauffman's Salon, Columbia, PA

bride and bridesmaids' dresses: David's Bridal

groom and groomsmen's attire: Men's Wearhouse

limousine rentals: Premiere #1 Limousine Service, Middletown, PA

catering: Classic Cuisine Catering, Palmyra, PA

outdoor chair rentals: Fricke Hardware & Rental, Columbia, PA

decorations: Edward Bullock Wedding Planning

linens: Special Occasions and Queen Street Linens, Lancaster, PA

cake: Mary Frances Kreiser, a family friend

videography: Mitchell Weaver, a cousin

wedding planning: Joan Barr, the bride's mother

The Wedding Planner: What was the first thing you did when you began to plan your wedding? What inspired you to start there?

Emily: We started by researching venues and catering. These two are the most costly and take the most room in the budget.

TWP: How did you select the bride's dress, the groom's attire and the outfits of the members of the wedding party?

Emily: Chris and I selected our attire based on comfort, and it definitely proved to be worth it when the big day arrived. The bridesmaids chose their own style to reflect their personality with comfort in mind! The groomsmen matched the groom except for the bowtie, so the groom would stand out.

TWP: How did you incorporate the tastes and personalities of both the bride and the groom into the wedding?

Emily: I was most concerned with keeping the ceremony meaningful and the reception fun. The celebrant and the disc jockey played a huge role in helping make that happen. Chris was most interested in the food and beverage choices, so he approved the menu!

TWP: What did you find to be the biggest challenge in planning a wedding?

Emily: Finding enough time outside of work and other obligations to meet with potential vendors. It's more time-consuming than we ever realized!

TWP: What is the most important piece of advice you have for other brides and grooms planning a wedding?

Emily: Enjoy the process, accept help from those who offer, keep an open mind and remember to toast often to your engagement!


Meet Meredith And Michael January 24, 2017

bride's hometown: Reading, PA

groom's hometown: Lancaster, PA

current place of residence: Lansdale, PA

bride's occupation: teacher

groom's occupation: sales

how they met: The couple first met at their good friends' wedding, where Michael served as a groomsman and Meredith was a bridesmaid.

proposal story: On March 20, 2015, Mike took Meredith to the Iron Hill Brewery in Phoenixville, where they went on their first date, and proposed. "It was a total surprise! Mike knew he had to propose on this date because it was the first day of spring, and it snowed," Meredith explains, noting that many of the couple's fun and important events happened in the snow. "Having Mike propose on a snowy night in a special place was magical!"

length of engagement: one and a half years

The Wedding

wedding date: July 2, 2016

ceremony and reception location: Cork Factory Hotel, Lancaster

wedding colors: navy with coral and white accents

wedding theme: rustic (burlap and lace)

menu: hot and cold hors d'oeuvres during cocktail hour, plated and served house salad course, intermezzo sorbet, and entrees Tuscan chicken with wild rice pilaf and London Broil with roasted red potatoes

cake: alternating layers of red velvet and carrot cake with cream cheese icing. The cake was accompanied by chocolate-covered strawberries.

flowers: a variety of pink-, coral-, and salmon-colored flowers

first dance song: "Yours" by Russell Dickerson

special readings included in ceremony: John 15:9-17 and 1 Corinthians 13:1-8

single favorite decoration: Meredith and Michael's favorite decoration was the antique ladder that was hung over the fireplace and decorated with hanging baby's breath flower bouquets and hanging mason jars with lights inside.

favor: M&M's in a glass jelly jar with a special decorative label with the couple's wedding date and initials and message

something worth splurging on: the photographer and the makeup artist


photography: Lindsey H. Dienner of Sweet Face Photography, New Holland, PA

venue: Cork Factory Hotel, Lancaster, PA

cake: The Baker's Table, Lancaster, PA

flowers: Rohrer Family Farm Flowers (Lancaster Central Market), Lancaster, PA

makeup: C.E. Facial Artistry, Philadelphia, PA

disc jockey: Dave Stephenson of A Time for Music & Memories, Douglassville, PA

The Wedding Planner: What was the first thing you did when you began to plan your wedding? What inspired you to start there?

Meredith: The first thing we did was find a wedding location and venue. We chose Lancaster because it was a central location for guests since most guests had to travel either from out of state or from other areas in Pennsylvania. Plus, Lancaster is a special place for both of us: Michael grew up in Lancaster, and I went to college in Lancaster at Millersville University. We knew the venue would help us decide our wedding theme and colors. Once the venue was selected, it was very easy to move forward with the selection process for other aspects of our wedding, including the attire for Mike and the groomsmen, the wedding dress, the bridesmaids' dresses, the decorations and centerpieces, the flowers, etc.

TWP: How did you select the bride's dress, the groom's attire, and the outfits of the members of the wedding party?

Meredith: Once we selected the Cork Factory Hotel as our wedding venue, we knew a more rustic theme utilizing burlap and lace would be a perfect fit for us. Pinterest was an amazing research tool that helped us select color schemes and attire for the members of the wedding party. We decided to integrate lace with the wedding dress and the bridesmaids' dresses. We also wanted to use neutral colors like navy for the bridesmaids' dresses and gray for the groom and groomsmen's suits and accent with pinks, corals, and white. These colors complemented the burlap and lace well.

TWP: How did you incorporate the tastes and personalities of both the bride and the groom into the wedding?

Meredith: Fortunately, Mike and I have similar tastes, so incorporating our personalities and tastes was pretty easy. We both liked the rustic look and wanted to find ways to integrate family and friends in our wedding day. For example, we had special rustic signs made for guests to guide them to their seat as well as for the sparkler send-off at the end of the reception. Mike and I also each used a rustic picture frame to create a collage of family pictures. An anniversary dance was used to celebrate the numerous married couples instead of having a bouquet/garter toss. And the sparkler send-off was a fun way to celebrate the end of the reception with family and friends together.

TWP: What did you find to be the biggest challenge in planning a wedding?

Meredith: The biggest hurdle in planning the wedding was getting the RSVP responses back from each guest. Thankfully, we set the RSVP date a month prior to the venue needing final numbers. That gave us enough time to contact our guests and determine if they were able to attend and ensure they would receive the plated entree of their choice.

TWP: What is the most important piece of advice you have for other brides and grooms planning a wedding?

Meredith: Give yourself plenty of time to plan, and stay organized by saving important documents/receipts in a folder or electronically. Also, don't sweat the small stuff! As you're planning your wedding, enjoy each moment with family and friends. And just take a moment to look around on your wedding day and soak up all of the love and laughter surrounding you.


Meet Samantha And Ryan January 24, 2017

bride's hometown: York, PA

groom's hometown: Quarryville, PA

current place of residence: Lancaster, PA

how they met: The couple met while they were college students at West Chester University. "We started talking at a beginning-of-semester picnic and clicked so well that we already had our first date planned by the end of the night!" recalls Samantha.

proposal story: When talking about engagement and marriage, Samantha once jokingly told Ryan that he wasn't allowed to propose until June. So he made sure to wait until it turned midnight on June 1 to get down on one knee and ask her to marry him.

length of engagement: a little over a year

honeymoon destination: Bar Harbor, Maine

The Wedding

wedding date: June 26, 2016

ceremony and reception location: the Rotunda at Lauxmont Farms, Wrightsville, PA

wedding colors: mint, lavender, and gold

wedding theme: brunch and books

the menu: brunch food, including quiche with gruyere and herbs, triple berry baked oatmeal, bacon, ham, baked challah French toast with peaches and creme, and roasted baby red potato hash

instead of a wedding cake: assorted doughnuts from Maple Donuts in York

flowers: lots of greenery, succulents, and lavender

first dance song: "Your Song" by Elton John

favorite decorations: all of the vintage books. "It took lots of yard sales and used book sales to get such a beautiful collection!" says Samantha.

favor: bookmarks

one thing worth splurging on: the photographer


venue: Lauxmont Farms, Wrightsville, PA

photographer: Autumn Kern Photo, Lancaster, PA

dress: Melissa Sweet at David's Bridal, York, PA

dress alterations: Linda Poff, Dover, PA

bridesmaids' dresses: Tevolio at Target

groom's suit: H&M

bride's hair: Meredith Ernest, Dover, PA

catering: The Scarlet Runner, Lancaster, PA

florals: Daisy May Flower and Event Stylists, Lancaster, PA

sound: FnP Productions, York, PA

doughnuts: Maple Donuts, York, PA

ceremony pianist: Taylor Gavin, Coatesville, PA

The Wedding Planner: What was the first thing you did when you began to plan your wedding? What inspired you to start there?

Samantha: The first thing we did was brainstorm what kind of wedding we wanted, and we began looking at venues based off that. Once we saw the Lauxmont Farms Rotunda, we knew it would be the perfect place for an afternoon brunch wedding, and we began planning based off the space.

TWP: How did you select the bride's dress, the groom's attire, and the outfits of the members of the wedding party?

Samantha: For my dress, I knew that I wanted detail: lots of lace and florals. I always loved long-sleeve dresses and wanted to try on a few. I let my family members each choose a dress from David's Bridal that they wanted me to try on. The dress I ended up wearing was my dad's choice!

For Ryan's suit, he saw a brown suit in a movie that he really liked, so we went on a hunt for something similar and found it for a good price at H&M. We had the groomsmen get the same pants, and I ordered the skinny woven ties from Etsy.

With the bridesmaids' dresses, I wanted two things: a light mint color and something affordable. I ran across the perfect mint Tevolio dresses on the Target website. I didn't even know that Target had bridesmaid dresses! And it just so happened that they had six varieties - perfect for each of my six bridesmaids to have a different dress! So, once my bridesmaids approved, I let them choose their favorites.

TWP: How did you incorporate the tastes and personalities of both the bride and the groom into the wedding?

Samantha: Both of us are morning people and book lovers, so an afternoon book and brunch wedding was very "us." Ryan is obsessed with Maple Donuts, so he suggested using them in place of cake, and it fit into the brunch perfectly. Once I knew those things, I was able to make the rest of the wedding fit in as well.

TWP: What did you find to be the biggest challenge in planning a wedding?

Samantha: It's so easy to get overwhelmed in the beginning. Looking at a long list of decisions to make and money to spend can be very stressful. Just take it one step at a time: figure out what your priorities are and get them done as soon as possible. For budgeting, do a lot of research to get a realistic view of what you can afford and plan your budget based on what is most important to you.

Get your vendors booked quickly. You can get crafty decorations anytime, but the caterer you want may be booked if you wait too long. If you find that you simply can't afford something in your budget, don't be afraid to ask around to family, friends, and your vendors. You'll be surprised who people know or what services people are willing to give you "as a wedding gift."

TWP: What is the most important piece of advice you have for other brides and grooms planning a wedding?

Samantha: Get the big decisions (venue, vendors, etc.) out of the way early on. Then you only have the fun details left as you get closer to the wedding!


Cortney & Colin August 1, 2016

Bride's Hometown: Lancaster, PA

Groom's Hometown: Willow Street, PA

Reside In: Elizabethtown, PA

Wedding Date: Sept. 6, 2015

Wedding & Reception Location: The John Wright Restaurant, Wrightsville, PA

Photographer: Emily Wilcox of Emily Grace Photography

Honeymoon: Costa Rica

Following a tradition they'd observed for several years, Cortney and her boyfriend, Colin, joined members of their families at Colin's brother's house to carve pumpkins on a fall day in 2014. After dating for more than six years, Cortney admits that she was beginning to wonder if Colin was ever going to pop the question, and nothing about Colin's calm demeanor that day betrayed the fact that Cortney was in for a big surprise as she began to clean out her pumpkin.

Colin had previously removed a section of the bottom of Cortney's pumpkin and inserted a bag with a small box inside. As she scooped away pumpkin seeds and goop, Cortney saw the box and knew immediately that it contained an engagement ring. Both sets of their parents came over to join in the celebration. "It was a night we will always remember!" Cortney said.

Another night that Cortney, who works in administration at Willow Valley Communities, and Colin, a sous chef at Lebanon Country Club, will always remember occurred 11 months later when the two wed alongside the Susquehanna River and celebrated with friends and family at The John Wright Restaurant in Wrightsville, Pa. Cortney shared insights into the couple's planning process leading into their big day.

Vendors Used:

Venue: The John Wright Restaurant, Wrightsville, PA

Cupcakes: The Flour Child, Columbia, PA

Bride's Dress: The Bridal Emporium, Elizabethtown, PA

Bridesmaids' Dresses: Alfred Angelo, Lancaster, PA

Flowers: Wedding Flowers by Cyndi, Willow Street, PA

Photography: Emily Grace Photography, Elizabethtown, PA

Disc Jockey: Top Hat Entertainment, Lancaster, PA

What was the first thing you did when you began to plan your wedding?

The first thing we decided on when we began to plan our wedding was the location and date. I knew I wanted to get married outside and by a body of water, and Colin agreed. I also wanted to get married in the summer, and our venue was booked for the summer until September, so that is how we chose our date. The first and only venue we checked out was The John Wright Restaurant. I had seen pictures of previous weddings there, and we both fell in love with that spot.

How did you choose a style for your wedding? What unique touches did you add to your wedding?

We chose a style for our wedding based around our venue and the time of year we got married. Since we got married along the Susquehanna River and I love the beach, we went with a nautical theme for our wedding. This included jars of sand with candles for our centerpieces, anchor-themed table numbers, and nautical knots tied around the bridal bouquets and the boutonnieres. Our colors were navy and coral/watermelon, which we thought were great colors to go with our nautical theme.

How did you select the bride's dress, the groom's attire and the outfits of the members of the wedding party? Did you know what you wanted in advance or base your decision on what you saw while shopping?

We had an idea of what we wanted when we first started to shop for the groom's attire. Since it was the end of summer, we knew there was a chance it could be really hot so we opted for vests and no jackets for the guys. We chose a light gray suit since it was an outside wedding, and it went well with our nautical wedding theme.

I knew I wanted the bridesmaids' dresses to be short, but that was all I had in mind. When we went shopping, I told the girls they could pick out their own style as long as it was short. However, they all ended up loving the same style, so everyone wore the same style dress, except for my sister. She was the maid of honor and I wanted her to stand out, so she wore a different style dress. She also wore a watermelon-colored dress while the bridesmaids wore navy.

For my wedding gown, I had a style in mind that I was interested in, but I was open to trying on different styles. We went to three different bridal stores before I fell in love with my gown. I knew right away that it was the dress for me and that all of the other dresses I had tried on did not compare to this one. When you are the bride, you just know when you have found the perfect one.

Out of the many skilled photographers in the area, how did you choose one?

We chose Emily Grace Photography after doing an Internet search of local wedding photographers. We started looking at photographers early in our wedding planning process because I had heard that photographers get booked up quickly, especially in the popular wedding months. When I found Emily's site and started browsing her pictures, I knew she was the photographer for us. She captured those special moments between a husband and wife that only a skilled photographer can capture. Her photos showed guests having a great time on the dance floor and dads seeing their daughters in their gowns for the first time. I loved the photos of all those "real" moments during a wedding day. Those are the moments that I wanted captured at my wedding, and I knew Emily could do that.

How did you incorporate the tastes and personalities of both the bride and the groom into the wedding?

We incorporated my tastes and personality through the nautical theme and my love for the beach. We incorporated Colin's tastes and personality through the food that we had at our reception. He picked almost the whole menu. We had a buffet-style dinner, but he wanted a roast beef carving station, so we had that as well. I love cupcakes and Colin isn't a huge dessert fan, so we had cupcakes instead of cake.

What favors did you provide for your guests?

We gave them a succulent plant in a pot and wrote our names and our wedding date on it. We added tiny starfishes to the pot to incorporate our nautical theme. We wanted to do something unique and different that we haven't seen at a wedding before. It was a Pinterest idea, but we loved the idea because it was a lasting gift that our guests could remember our wedding by.

If there was one thing you could do differently, what would it be?

I would have added an extra hour on to our reception. The night just flew by, and there were some things I would have liked to do that we didn't get the chance to because we just ran out of time! I know my guests and I would have enjoyed an extra hour of dancing as well.

Do you have any tips for managing wedding planning stress, pre-wedding jitters, etc.?

Start early and do not wait until the last minute to get things done. Make a list of when payments are due to vendors so you will be able to meet their deadlines. We found it helpful to use a wedding planning timeline that we found in Engle Printing & Publishing Co., Inc.'s Wedding Planner! This helps you to stay on track of when items should be bought and vendors need to be contacted. According to the timeline, we stayed on track and that caused us less stress because we knew we had everything done when it was supposed to be, and we were not worried that it wouldn't be done in time for the wedding.

Any other tips for brides- and grooms-to-be?

Just enjoy every moment of the wedding planning process because your engagement period goes by way too quickly! Even if you do get stressed and just want your big day to be here (like I felt a number of times), just remember that this time in your life only happens once and you should make the most of it! And when your bridesmaids ask if they can do anything to help, take them up on their offer. It takes a load off you, and it allows for fun bonding time with your girls before your big day!

Everyone told me that my wedding day would fly by, and it sure did! On your special day, you want to make sure you stop what you are doing, look around, and soak in the excitement and beauty around you. This is the greatest day of your life, and you do not want to be caught up in the small details that will not even matter in the end. One last piece of advice - don't forget to breathe.

Photos by Emily Grace Photography


Ashley & Jesse August 1, 2016

Bride's Hometown: Lebanon, PA

Groom's Hometown: Manheim, PA

Reside In: Manheim, PA

Wedding Date: June 27, 2015

Wedding Location: St. Paul's United Church of Christ, Manheim, PA

Reception Location: Historic Acres of Hershey, Elizabethtown, PA

Photographer: Jeremy Hess Photographers

Honeymoon: Hawaii (Maui and Kauai)

If the old adage that rain on a wedding day is good luck, Ashley and Jesse hit the jackpot. "Our wedding day was one of the rainiest days of the summer. The forecast said there was a 100-percent chance of rain, and the forecast was right!" Ashley recalled. "It rained all day, but we really didn't let it bother us at all." The two even managed to use the damp weather to create a unique memento of the day. "We set a jar outside and captured some the rain, and we will save it as a keepsake to commemorate our wedding day," Ashley explained.

Ashley, a sales consultant, and Jesse, an auctioneer, first met when they were set up on a double date by Ashley's sister, Kaila, and her husband, Ryan, one of Jesse's friends from high school. Ashley and Jesse hit it off immediately over dinner and ice cream in Mount Gretna, Pa. "Practically love at first sight," Ashley said.

The two became engaged on a 2014 trip to the Adirondack Mountains in New York. During a morning hike to Billy's Bald Spot, Jesse proposed at the top of the mountain and then the two shared a celebratory toast from a bottle of champagne that Jesse had been carrying in his backpack.

Nearly 12 months later, Ashley and Jesse wed at St. Paul's United Church of Christ in Manheim and joined family and friends at The Historic Acres of Hershey to celebrate the joyous (and, yes, a little soggy) day. Ashley answered our questions about the big day and the planning that went into it.

Vendors Used:

Catering: The JDK Group / Weddings by JDK (David Everett), Camp Hill, PA

Coordinator: Susan Barry Events, Newmanstown, PA

Photography: Jeremy Hess Photographers, Lancaster, PA

Video: Willow Tree Films LLC, Philadelphia area, PA

Florist: Wildflowers by Design, Manheim, PA

Cake: The Couture Cakery, Lemoyne, PA

Linens: Special Occasions, Lancaster, PA

Invitations and Programs: Designs by Renee, Lancaster, PA

Hair and Makeup: A Little Off the Top, Lititz, PA

Eyelashes: Ooh La Lashes, Lititz, PA

Farm Table Rentals: Weir Event Rentals, Hershey, PA

Vintage Rentals: Swoon Vintage Rental, Hummelstown, PA

Sweetheart Table Loveseat: Treasured Rentals, Lancaster, PA

Corncrib Drapery: Shumaker PDT, Lancaster, PA

Bride's Dress: La Bella Moda, Conshohocken, PA

Bridesmaids' Dresses: Alfred Angelo, Lancaster, PA

Tuxedo Rentals: Shaub's Classic Apparel, Lititz, PA

Transportation: Unique Limousine, Manheim, PA

Dance Lessons: PA DanceSport, Hummelstown, PA

Music: The Love Jones Band, Williamstown, NJ

What was the first thing you did when you began to plan your wedding?

The first thing we did was to search for a reception venue. With wanting to get married within a year, we knew that our options would begin to be limited for a Saturday wedding venue, as some venues are booked years in advance! After searching in the Lancaster/Lebanon/Hershey area, we discovered a brand-new venue, Historic Acres of Hershey, which wasn't even built yet! Their design plan, style, and indoor/outdoor vibe were exactly what we were looking for. The size was also perfect - it can be difficult finding a venue that accommodates more than 200 guests.

How did you choose a style for your wedding? What unique touches did you add to your wedding?

We wanted a style of "rustic elegance" for our wedding. This style describes us as a couple and also worked well with our venue selection, which had a barn feel with crystal chandeliers.

How did you select the bride's dress, the groom's attire and the outfits of the members of the wedding party? Did you know what you wanted in advance or base your decision on what you saw while shopping?

For my bridal gown, I knew I wanted lace on the dress and a sweetheart neckline. The rest of the decision was based on what I saw while shopping. I found that A-line dresses and ball gowns were too overwhelming for me, but I still wanted fullness within the skirt. The fit-and-flare style turned out to be just right. I absolutely fell in love with the skirt of my dress, which had layered English netting.

For the groom's and groomsmen's attire, we wanted to go with a classic look, so we decided that black tuxedoes were the way to go. Jesse's only request was that he wanted to wear black cowboy boots, and the boots added a great personalized touch to his outfit.

We ordered the bridesmaid's gowns from Alfred Angelo. They had a variety of different styles to choose from, so each bridesmaid was able to choose her favorite style in the same color.

Out of the many skilled photographers in the area, how did you choose one?

After looking through many options, I decided to meet with Amber Martin from Jeremy Hess Photographers in Lancaster. Her style of photography seemed fresh with a classic appeal. Her images seemed like they would be beautiful and classic five, 10, or even 50 years down the road. After meeting with Amber in person, we loved her personality and attitude. She really cared about our wedding and what was important to us.

How did you incorporate the tastes and personalities of both the bride and the groom into the wedding?

Our rustic elegance style really captured both of our personalities. With Jesse being an outdoorsman, we incorporated antlers within the floral arrangements on the tables, as well as tasteful antler images on other details like signage, cocktail napkins, and matches. However, we still maintained a classy and elegant vibe through the use of antiques and metallic copper as an accent.

Also, I love to dance and take dance classes as a hobby. Jesse agreed to take ballroom dancing lessons for our wedding day, and we showed off some of our newly learned moves during our first dance, which made our first dance so fun and memorable for us.

What favors did you provide for guests?

We gave our guests small glass jars filled with a "Hunter's Blend" salt, because it is something that we love to use personally when cooking. The seasoning is perfect for any meat, fish, or wild game - which we eat a lot of since Jesse is an avid hunter. We also liked the salt as a favor because it was something that the guests could take with them and actually use when they got home. We got responses from our guests that they loved the favor and wanted to know where they could get more!

What did you find to be the biggest challenge in planning a wedding?

Our biggest challenge or concern was estimating how many of our invited guests would attend the ceremony and reception. At the church and the reception venue, we had a maximum of about 230 guests that we could accommodate. Luckily, our estimate was right on the nose, and we came in just under 230 guests so everything worked out perfectly. However, waiting for that final guest count to come in was probably the most stressful part of the planning process!

If there was one thing you could do differently, what would it be?

If there was one thing that we wish could have been different on our wedding day, it was the rain. Luckily, the rain didn't impact us too much because the ceremony and reception were inside. The only major thing that was changed was our cocktail hour, which was planned to be outside in the courtyard at Historic Acres of Hershey but instead had to be moved inside to the pavilion. We accepted it and had an absolutely perfect wedding day!

Do you have any tips for managing wedding planning stress, pre-wedding jitters, etc.?

Find a "day-of" wedding coordinator. Between JDK Catering, which did an amazing job with setup and teardown, and Susan Barry Events, our day-of coordinator, we felt very confident going into our wedding day. JDK and Susan Barry Events worked together to outline every detail of the timeline. We were able to relax knowing that everything was taken care of and that they would keep things moving on schedule throughout the ceremony and reception.

Any other tips for brides- and grooms-to-be?

Once your wedding day arrives, just try to relax and enjoy everything! Let the professionals do their jobs and know that they will be able to handle any obstacles that come up. Try to relax and soak up every moment of the day that you've worked so hard to plan. Also, take some time to enjoy a few private moments with your spouse. We had some alone time driving from the church to the venue and also taking our "first look" at the reception venue before the guests arrived. These moments are definitely some of the ones that stick out in my memory from what was an amazing day.

Photos by Jeremy Hess Photographers 2015/Amber Martin


Darcy & Jerome July 29, 2016

Bride's Hometown: Lancaster, PA

Groom's Hometown: Connellsville, PA

Reside In: Philadelphia, PA

Wedding Date: March 28, 2015

Wedding Location: Mellinger Mennonite Church, Lancaster, PA

Reception Location: Bareville Fire Company, Leola, PA

Photographer: Kelly Lapp Photography

Honeymoon: Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Farmington, PA

"We joke that we had an 'arranged marriage,' because we agreed to get married about three weeks after meeting for the first time," explained Darcy, recalling the early days of her relationship with her husband, Jerome. "It wasn't love at first sight, but certainly we were hooked at some point on our second date," she added. "Sometime during that second date, we both let our guards down and realized there was something special between us."

It certainly seems like it was meant to be for Darcy, an elementary music teacher, and Jerome, a graduate student and future pastor. The two met online on the first or second day after Darcy created a profile on an online dating site. Darcy later found out that one of her housemates knew Jerome and was already planning to match him up with Darcy, which only added to the sense that the two were destined to find each other.

"It was a whirlwind," said Darcy. "Jerome proposed in his living room with an impossibly cheap engagement ring that made way for a better one a few months later. His earnest, nervous speeches melted my heart." Five months later, the two wed in a traditional ceremony that included worship music and then celebrated with friends and family with a reception held at a nearby fire company. Darcy provided insight into the couple's wedding planning process.

Vendors Used:

Photography: Kelly Lapp Photography, Lancaster, PA

Catering: Stoltzfus Catering, Mount Joy, PA

Dress: Reifsnyder's Bridal Boutique, Lancaster, PA

Bridesmaids' Dresses: Alfred Angelo

Groomsmen's Suits: Men's Wearhouse

Flowers: by the bride's aunt, Laverne Oberholtzer of Elizabethtown, PA

Cake: by the bride's sister, Danelle Fernandez, Colorado Springs, CO

Videographer: Treasure Box Family Life Productions, Lancaster, PA

What was the first thing you did when you began to plan your wedding?

First we reserved the church. I knew it was a great place to get married. My older sister had her wedding there nine years prior.

How did you choose a style for your wedding? What unique touches did you add to your wedding?

I don't think we did anything that stylistically unique. We had a traditional ceremony with some time for worship music, which is something that was so important to me because I love worship.

For the reception, we went with a rather rustic feel, and my mother was the mastermind of a lot of the decorative details. She suggested using cross-sections of logs for the tables, brown paper, and lace. She also crafted our seating chart cards. I wanted both candles and flowers on the tables, and my aunt made beautiful bouquets in jars. My cousin lent us strings of Christmas lights to hang at the reception.

How did you select the outfits of the members of the wedding party? Did you know what you wanted in advance or base your decision on what you saw while shopping?

I selected the bridesmaids' dresses quickly, knowing that they needed to be ordered soon. My sister graciously spearheaded the search for the dresses, and I loved the color.

For the groomsmen, we wanted something classic and not too pricey, so we settled on what the associates at Men's Wearhouse guided us toward. Opting for suspenders instead of vests saved some money, and we bought the guys some wild purple socks.

Out of the many skilled photographers in the area, how did you choose one?

I chose Kelly Lapp Photography because I've seen her work on Facebook and I attended elementary school with her, so I trusted her artistry and work ethic. When she was recommended by another photographer I checked with, it sealed the deal. Her second shooter for our wedding day, Laura

Burkholder, was a classmate of mine from first grade through high school. Both Kelly and Laura were delightful to work with. They kept things running smoothly and were so joyful and relaxed, which was a blessing on the wedding day.

How did you incorporate the tastes and personalities of both the bride and the groom into the wedding?

Jerome was laid-back about preparations, just suggesting that his mother sing at the wedding and that the guys wear traditional tuxedos. We both like purple and have friends who are fantastic musicians, so we had great music and a lot of purple.

I selected most of the ceremony music, and Jerome chose the recessional and the music for the bridal party's entrance into the reception. You can imagine the response of our white and black friends and family members when the bridal party strutted in with James Brown's "Say it Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud" blasting. I insisted upon dancing at the reception, but it was Jerome who wowed the crowd during our extemporaneous first dance.

What did you find to be the biggest challenge in planning a wedding?

Weddings involve so many people, and people all have opinions. It was a challenge to navigate those opinions while maneuvering within a budget and trying to decide what aspects were important to me personally. There are so many decisions to be made, and it's hard to know which ones are even important. It was also a challenge to limit the guest list!

If there was one thing you could do differently, what would it be?

I would have left out the open mic at the reception and chatted with more wedding guests instead.

Do you have any tips for managing wedding planning stress, pre-wedding jitters, etc.?

Stay away from people who upset you! And plan ahead. I spent a lot of energy in the weeks before the wedding pulling together the musicians, who were all friends of ours, because one of our singers backed out. It worked out for the best, and I was thrilled with the end result.

Also, Jerome surprised me by booking a massage for me the week before the wedding. That was certainly relaxing!

Any other tips for brides- and grooms-to-be?

The ceremony is so much more important than the reception! We can have another big party sometime, but I will always treasure the ceremony. My advice is to pay attention to the details of the ceremony - the music, readings, prayers, etc. It is so meaningful.

Photos by Kelly Lapp Photography


Shannon & Tim July 29, 2016

Bride's Hometown: Short Gap, WV

Groom's Hometown: Harrisburg, PA

Reside In: Hershey, PA

Wedding Date: April 17, 2015

Wedding & Reception Location: Historic Acres of Hershey, Elizabethtown, PA

Photographer: Joseph and Deborah McDowell of J&D Studio

Honeymoon: Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

After meeting on the job, line cooks Shannon and Tim perfected the recipe for love. "We cooked together and built a strong friendship for two years before transitioning to dating and beginning a relationship," Shannon explained.

Tim proposed late one night after the couple had survived a rough day at work. "We were hanging out on the couch, and he got down on one knee and asked," Shannon recalled. "The proposal was sweet, simple, and perfect for us!"

During their 14-month engagement, the culinarily talented duo cooked up plans for a spring celebration that treated their guests to a healthy portion of fun in the form of dancing, games, and a photo booth. "We loved our wedding day and honestly wouldn't want to change anything," Shannon said. She provided details about the big day and the couple's wedding planning journey.

Vendors Used:

Caterer: The Uncommon Caterer, Harrisburg, PA

Bride's and Bridesmaids' dresses: David's Bridal, Harrisburg, PA

Photographer: J&D Studio, Harrisburg, PA

Cake: by friend Wes Hellberg

Disc Jockey: B&B Light and Sound, Sinking Spring, PA

Tent: Hess Tent Rental, Lititz, PA

Flowers: Weddings and Blooms, Mechanicsburg, PA, and Sam's Club, Harrisburg, PA

Bridal Hair: Holiday Hair, Hummelstown, PA

Officiant: Pastor Jeffrey Fisher

What was the first thing you did when you began to plan your wedding?

The two most important things to start with are researching wedding venues and also to start compiling the guest list. It is important to have an idea of how many guests will be attending so that you will know if the venues you are interested in can accommodate your group.

How did you choose a style for your wedding? What unique touches did you add to your wedding?

We chose to go with the very popular "rustic" theme. Tim and I both love the outdoors and the natural look of burlap, wood, lace, and wildflowers. We also liked the rustic approach because every single detail did not need to be absolutely perfect. We came up with a motto throughout all of our planning and crafting for when things didn't go exactly according to plan: "If it doesn't turn out perfect, it's OK because it's RUSTIC!" We brought the outdoors inside as we put a huge tent right overtop the beautifully landscaped patio area at Historic Acres of Hershey. It was unique and truly special to us.

We had so many unique touches at our wedding that our family was involved in! My brother built cornhole boards for guests to enjoy during the cocktail hour. My parents made an incredible wooden backdrop for our photo booth. The photo booth props were all handmade by a friend. The wood logs we used for centerpieces were all hand-cut by my uncle. We also had an amazing wooden guest book that we can hang in our house as a reminder of our special day!

How did you select the bride's dress, the groom's attire and the outfits of the members of the wedding party? Did you know what you wanted in advance or base your decision on what you saw while shopping?

I did a little research on dresses before going to the store. I had an idea of my likes and dislikes, but what I ended up choosing was really not at all what I had pictured myself wearing. However, we all loved the dress once I put it on. It was the right fit for me, my boots, and the overall style of our wedding.

The bridesmaids' dresses were pretty easy to pick out. I told the girls that the color of the dress should be mint, and they quickly found one they all agreed on! It was the right color, and the lace on them blended in beautifully with the lace bridal gown. The girls also wore boots, which looked so cute with the knee-length dresses.

Tim wanted to buy a suit rather than renting a tux, so he and the groomsmen all bought black suits and shoes. Tim and I went shopping together to find shirts and ties for the guys to match the bridesmaids' dresses, and I think we found a pretty great match!

Out of the many skilled photographers in the area, how did you choose one?

J&D Studio was recommended by a friend who had her wedding photographed by Deb and Joseph. We looked through the amazing photos on her website and scheduled a meeting with her. After talking with her and going over pricing, we knew we had found our wedding photographer. Deb and Joseph are so talented and will do whatever it takes to get the best pictures!

What favors did you provide for your guests?

We saw the idea of doing a popcorn bar online and thought that would be a great wedding favor! We wanted to give something that people could use - or eat, in this case. We got a personalized stamp with a design featuring our initials inside of a Mason jar and stamped brown paper bags for guests to fill with popcorn, seasonings, candies, and nuts. The caterer took care of the entire thing for us!

What did you find to be the biggest challenge in planning a wedding?

The biggest challenge that probably every couple will encounter is having all of the last-minute details to finalize the week of the wedding. It seems that no matter how much work and preparation you put in ahead of time, there will always be last-minute things to take care of.

Do you have any tips for managing wedding planning stress, pre-wedding jitters, etc.?

Get your bridal party, close friends, and family involved. We had several people helping out with building, crafting, organizing, and lending us things for the day. It really helped knowing that we weren't the only two people working to make the day successful. We are so lucky we had people willing to help out!

It's also very important to stay organized and make a to-do list to keep you on track. It felt great to get things marked off the list and helped to keep the stress level down. Also, plan a great honeymoon to keep you excited during the stressful and busy times.

Any other tips for brides- and grooms-to-be?

Put your main focus on the parts of the day that are most important to you. Don't worry about the little things that may not go exactly as planned, because chances are your guests won't even notice. When the big day comes, relax and take it all in, as the day will go by fast.

Photos by J&D Studio


Julia & Dan July 29, 2016

Bride's Hometown: Charleston, SC

Groom's Hometown: Royersford, PA

Reside In: Schwenksville, PA

Wedding Date: May 22, 2015

Wedding & Reception Location: Cameron Estate Inn, Mount Joy, PA

Photographer: Epic Photography

Honeymoon: Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa

"It was a perfect moment," said Julia, describing when Dan, whom she originally met through a mutual friend from grade school, proposed to her via a beloved holiday decoration. Dan's mother had given the couple a beautiful rocking horse Advent calendar that featured little drawers containing a different decoration for each day. When Julia opened the drawer for Dec. 11, she found that the daily Christmas decoration was sharing its space with another sparkly surprise - an engagement ring. When she turned around, Dan was down on one knee.

During their year-and-a-half-long engagement, Julia, a hair stylist, and Dan, a dispatcher, collaborated to plan a wedding and reception that drew heavily on influences from their heritages (Japanese and American for Julia, Portuguese and German for Dan), as well as their own favorite things. From paper crane decorations to special floral arrangements to scrumptious cupcakes from their neighborhood bakery, the details of the day spoke to who Dan and Julia are, as they celebrated their new life together with their families and friends.

"I was just so happy to see all of our planning, decorating and guests all come together in one beautiful day," said Julia. She took the time to share more details of the big day and the planning that went into it.

Vendors Used:

Photography and videography: Epic Photography, Elizabethtown, PA

Cake: Bause Catered Events, Pottstown, PA

Cupcakes: ICED by Betsy, Royersford, PA

Bride's Dress: Jon's Bridal by Suzanne, Allentown, PA

Bridesmaids' Dresses: Stephanie's Bridal, Pennsburg, PA

Catering: Cameron Estate Inn, Mount Joy, PA

Flowers: Petals With Style, Lancaster, PA

Hair and Makeup: Artistic Design Hair Studio, Allentown, PA

Officiant: Michael Dunstan, Bethlehem, PA

Favors: White River Designs

What was the first thing you did when you began to plan your wedding?

The first thing we wanted to do was find the wedding venue. We wanted a venue that hosted both the wedding and reception since we were going to have a lot of out-of-town guests. We knew we wanted to get married spring or early summer but were not picky about any specific day, so we picked the date based on what the venue had available.

We wanted to choose the venue first mainly to get a better idea of what colors we could use to decorate and to pick up the ambiance of what our bridal party would wear.

How did you choose a style for your wedding? What unique touches did you add to your wedding?

Our wedding's style was based on our personalities, families, and international backgrounds - Dan has a Portuguese and German background and I have a Japanese and American background. Our favorite unique touch was having Dan's mother, Anita, sing "A Thousand Years" by Christina Perri right before the bridesmaids walked in. Her voice was so beautiful and set the tone for a perfect day.

Our welcome wedding bags were full of Portuguese, Japanese, and German treats. Our table cards were Japanese origami cranes, which were all handmade by family and friends, so this really gave a personal touch to our day. Another personal touch was having all of my girls get ready in floral kimono robes, and all of Dan's groomsmen wore Sanuks, a brand of shoes that he loves. Also, because Dan's father is from the Azores, a set of islands that are famous for their flowering bushes of hydrangeas, we had Petals With Style design the different arrangements with an abundance of hydrangeas.

How did you select the bride's dress, the groom's attire and the outfits of the members of the wedding party? Did you know what you wanted in advance or base your decision on what you saw while shopping?

The groom's attire we knew we wanted gray, so it was easy to check that decision off the list. I wanted a lace dress but was unsure of the style. I really think the secret is having an experienced bridal consultant who knows what is best for you. I tried a few bridal shops and each consultant would take me from dress to dress, and I would end up with five or six dresses that were lace and beautiful but I was overwhelmed with so many options. Suzanne at Jon's Bridal was the best consultant I dealt with; she looked at me and knew what dress was going to look good on me. She came back with it, and I was in love!

The bridesmaids' dresses were a lot more difficult to pick out, since I was very picky and stuck on a shade of yellow that was now discontinued. After accepting that they were not going to be yellow, I went with a beautiful blush color that would complement yellow flowers.

Out of the many skilled photographers in the area, how did you choose one?

I did a lot of Facebook "stalking" in the Lancaster area, and I loved Jamie and Andrew's style of photography at Epic Photography. They really grabbed candid moments.

How did you incorporate the tastes and personalities of both the bride and the groom into the wedding?

We included everything we love: our families, friends, and food! We love these delicious cupcakes from a small shop in Royersford by our house, and the owner, Betsy, was such a joy to work with. It's amazing how many different flavors of cupcakes this woman can make! She provided us with 13 dozen cupcakes, and we did about seven different flavor options. A couple of our favorites are the Sweet Piggy, the Couch Potato, and the Bananatella. These cupcakes were definitely a wonderful thing to share with all the family members and friends who were there to celebrate with us.

For our ceremony, we wanted something different than a unity candle - something that was more "us." We did some research and came up with the Covenant of the Salt. From the earliest times, salt has been known as a preservative and purifier that prevents decay and corruption. It is eternal, enduring, and never changing, and they say the only way to break this covenant is to retrieve all your own grains of salt. The bride and groom each have a glass of salt representing one's life and then pour the salt into one glass to blend these two lives together.

What favors did you provide for your guests?

We gave our guests unique candles with orchids inside them. We wanted to provide something useful for our guests and something that did not take up a lot of space on the table. We wanted to stay away from the traditional favors that you always get at weddings, so this was the perfect budget-friendly favor.

Do you have any tips for managing wedding planning stress, pre-wedding jitters, etc.?

Make a wedding binder and stay organized! My wedding binder made it easy to multitask, because I brought that thing everywhere with me. I also followed a very thorough timeline that I found, and it really helped me not feel so overwhelmed. The stress is inevitable, but I think what really helped me was that you have to have a mindset that something will go wrong. Perfection is impossible because you cannot be in five places at one time.

Any other tips for brides- and grooms-to-be?

Take in every moment of the day, because it really just goes so fast.

Photos by Epic Photography/Jamie & Andrew Schoenberger


Jill & John July 29, 2016

Bride's Hometown: Columbia, PA-

Groom's Hometown: Columbia, MD

Reside In: Timonium, MD

Wedding Date: April 18, 2015

Wedding & Reception Location: The Farm at Eagles Ridge, Lancaster, PA

Photographer: Kylene Lynn Photography

Honeymoon: Secrets Silversands Riviera Cancun, Mexico

Jill and John, who hail from different towns named Columbia (Columbia, Pa., for Jill; Columbia, Md., for John), first crossed paths during their senior year at Towson University, where they were both athletes. Track team member Jill and baseball player John remained friends after they graduated and officially began dating a few years later.

During their engagement, Jill, a disability examiner, and John, a beer distribution sales representative, returned to their sporty roots. "We both grew up appreciating our athleticism, and we enjoy exercising and its many health benefits. After the engagement, we decided it was the right time to get into shape all over again; however, this time we agreed we would make it a team effort," Jill explained. "Wedding planning is a lot of work, and taking a break is important. When we found ourselves so overwhelmed with planning, we knew that going for a run or hitting the weights would help release some of that tension. Working out together during our planning days paid off both physically and mentally!"

All of Jill and John's hard work on wedding planning paid off, truly hitting it out of the park with their Lancaster County farm wedding, complete with a barbecue meal and plenty of dancing. The couple took the time to answer our questions about their process of planning the big day.

Vendors Used:

Wedding Planner: Taryn Blake Events, York, PA

Officiant: the Rev. Kelly Jo Singleton, Lancaster, PA

Catering: Hess's Barbecue Catering Inc., Willow Street, PA

Photography: Kylene Lynn Photography, Lancaster, PA

Disc Jockey: Roger Campbell, Top Hat Entertainment, Lancaster, PA

Cake and Cupcakes: Byers Butterflake Bakery, Leola, PA

Dress: Renaissance Bridals, York, PA

Bridesmaids' Dresses:

Groom/Groomsmen Suits: Jos. A. Bank, Lancaster, PA

Makeup: Kayla Hummer with A Little Off the Top, Lititz, PA

Transportation: Newhurst Inc., Pine Grove, PA

Other/private vendors utilized by Jill and John included James Burke (videography), Courtney Torborg (flowers), and Rhonda and Colleen (hair).

What was the first thing you did when you began to plan your wedding?

Immediately following our engagement, we wanted to pick a venue and a date - they coincide when planning! We knew we wanted at least a year to plan and did not want a winter wedding, so we were anticipating April or May 2015, pending on venue availability. We had a few venues in mind, and nowadays venues tend to book fast, so we booked several tours right away. We knew we needed to act quickly if we wanted our dream venue, and 26 days after the proposal, we put down our venue deposit and had a wedding date!

How did you choose a style for your wedding? What unique touches did you add to your wedding?

From the beginning, we knew we wanted our wedding to be laid-back with a touch of tradition - not super fancy - and offer a good buffet-style dinner and a really fun time. The "rustic" theme seemed to fit us best - relaxed, unsophisticated, homey.

The Farm at Eagles Ridge has a ton of character on its own, and we chose to utilize the layout. We wanted guests to appreciate all that it had to offer - structural pillars outlining our dance floor, original barn wood, the spacious corncrib, and the simple backdrop of the pond during our ceremony. We kept centerpieces and decorations simple. (This also helped keep costs down, which is a huge perk!) We opted for rustic elements like tree slices, terra-cotta flowerpots with miniature peach roses, and jelly jars with white candles. We served cupcakes for dessert, so we had two cupcake stands built from barn wood and garnished with burlap.

We went with Hess's Barbecue to cater our wedding meal, which seemed fitting on a Lancaster County farm. Most importantly, it felt like a giant spring barbecue with our biggest fans! Our guests enjoyed a buffet-style meal loaded with pulled pork sandwiches, baked beans, corn bread, and much more.

How did you select the bride's dress, the groom's attire, and the outfits of the members of the wedding party? Did you know what you wanted in advance or base your decision on what you saw while shopping?

When selecting attire for our wedding, we wanted something that fit not only our personal styles, but also our rustic theme and color scheme. We knew sparkly items, satin dresses, lots of tulle, and tuxedos were out for us!

Jill had some ideas in mind - lace, slim-fitting, off-white, lightweight. Even though she tried on a few dresses, she ended up saying yes to the first dress she tried on, falling in love with the low-cut back, scalloped trim, and the way it looked bustled.

John knew from the beginning that he wanted a slim-fit suit versus a tuxedo. Originally, Jill was set on light tan suits for the guys, but John suggested navy blue, ultimately selecting a two-piece navy blue suit with a subtle tan pinstripe and a tie that corresponded with Jill's dress.

Once we established an April wedding, Jill fixated on pastel, spring colors and immediately fell in love with the peach/mint combination. We liked the idea of the matron of honor and best man wearing a different color, so we selected a mint dress for her and a corresponding mint tie for him. The girls wore one of two different styles of dresses to accent the color scheme and add some character to the wedding party. The groomsmen wore peach ties to match their wedding party partner. The navy suits really brought out the peach and mint colors and set the vibe for the pretty spring day!

Out of the many skilled photographers in the area, how did you choose one?

We came across Kylene Lynn Photography on The Farm at Eagles Ridge blog. We decided to contact Kylene, really liking the idea that she was familiar with our future wedding venue, and her pictures were amazing. Aside from a photographer who was prompt, personable, and friendly, we were looking for someone who provided an assistant on the big day and granted us the rights to the photos taken. We were super excited about the digital rights we earned to our photos - the online gallery made it easier for sharing with family and friends after the big day.

How did you incorporate the tastes and personalities of both the bride and the groom into the wedding?

We have similar tastes and personalities, but nonetheless our wedding was a mutual project that reflected both of us. We shared ideas with each other and found ways to incorporate them into our wedding.

Our music choices for the night allowed guests to enjoy a variety of tunes. Although we listen to almost anything, we do have different tastes in music. We trusted our disc jockey to take care of the majority of music for the evening - we agreed to let him spin whatever the crowd was into - but we took turns selecting the special songs. Roger Campbell with Top Hat Entertainment did a wonderful job of getting our crowd going and rolling all night. We trusted his knowledge and only provided him with a small song list to play throughout the night.

What favors did you provide for your guests?

We wanted our favors to reflect our theme or colors and found the "mint to be" idea appealing. Rather than using a pack of mints, we decided to give out something we both love - Keebler's Grasshopper cookies! Our favor was simple, inexpensive, and edible - and who doesn't like cookies?!

What did you find to be the biggest challenge in planning a wedding?

The biggest challenge was narrowing down the final guest list. We would have loved to have an unlimited number of guests at our wedding, but given that we would also be spending on the venue, additional vendors, food, etc., we had to come up with a comfortable number that was affordable for our parents and us. Creating the seating arrangements was difficult too, but looking back on it, it is really nothing to stress about! It is your day, and, unfortunately, you are not going to be able to accommodate every single guest.

If there was one thing you could do differently, what would it be?

Hire a loading crew! We created our centerpieces and brought in the majority of our decorations and props, so we were also responsible for packing it up and taking it all home at the end of the night. Although we got everything packed and loaded after the reception, we missed a little bit of the after-party because we felt it was necessary to assist with cleanup.

Do you have any tips for managing wedding planning stress, pre-wedding jitters, etc.?

Take advantage of it when people (parents, bridesmaids, friends, a wedding planner) offer to help. And do not be afraid to ask for help from those in your wedding party; they agreed to stand by your side no matter what!

Have a first look! We met on the dock at the pond two hours before our wedding ceremony. It was a moment we will never forget, and it helped ease the ceremony jitters. Our photographer was able to capture the moment, and our parents and the wedding party watched in the distance. It was honestly the best moment of the day!

Finally, if you have to stress, stress up until the day of your wedding, but do not stress on the day of your wedding! We know it sounds like terrible advice, but it is true. We will admit that were some stressful moments leading up to the wedding, but, ultimately, the most important part of your wedding day is that you enjoy it. There will be hiccups, but keep in mind that they will probably be minor and they will go unnoticed by guests, who are there to celebrate you, the newlyweds!

Photos by Kylene Lynn Photography


Samantha & John Ephrata, PA

Bride's Hometown: York, PA

Groom's Hometown: York, PA

Wedding Date: May 10, 2014

Wedding & Reception Location: Historic Shady Lane, Manchester, PA

Photographer: Loving Memories Photography, Emigsville, PA

Honeymoon: Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

After attending high school together at York Suburban High School and dating for more than six years, Samantha and John were engaged on Christmas Day in 2012. John popped the question on Christmas morning, instructing Samantha to face the Christmas tree and close her eyes while he went out to the car to get her "big" present. When she turned back around and opened her eyes, John was on one knee in front of her and asked her to marry him. "Of course, I said yes," she recalls.

About 17 months later, the couple tied the knot during a picturesque outdoor ceremony, and friends and family members gathered to enjoy a reception that absolutely lived up to the country chic celebration Samantha had envisioned. Samantha shared insights into her planning process with us.

Vendors Used:

Wedding Dress and Bridesmaids' Dresses: Renaissance Bridals, York, PA

Cake: Sheila's Cakery, York, PA

Catering: Festive Board, York, PA

Flowers: Backwoods Florist, East Berlin, PA

Videography: JKM Production, Lititz, PA

What was the first thing you did when you began to plan your wedding? What inspired you to start there?

The first thing I did was select our venue. I knew how fast places booked up for weddings, so I knew that we needed to select that first.

How did you choose a style for your wedding? What unique touches did you add to your wedding?

I always had an idea of how I wanted my wedding to look and the decorations that I would be using. I wanted a country, chic, rustic look, and our venue provided the perfect place for that specific style. We used a lot of chalkboards, burlap, handmade decorations, flowers, and small details that pulled our theme together nicely.

How did you select the bride's dress, the groom's attire, and the outfits of the members of the wedding party? Did you know what you wanted in advance or base your decision on what you saw while shopping?

For my dress, I actually wanted nothing like it. I originally wanted a more lace/country look, but when I went to Renaissance and tried on styles that weren't my first choice, I fell in love with my gown.

I knew I wanted my bridal party to be in blue because it is my favorite color and it's a perfect spring color. The guys took some research and debating until we decided to go with the gray.

Out of the many skilled photographers in the area, how did you choose one?

Krista at Loving Memories is someone I have known since I was little. She does amazing work, and the choice for us was an easy one. We really liked her style and technique.

What favors did you provide for guests and how did you decide on them?

Our favors were mini bags that said, "Thanks for sharing our special day. Love, John and Samantha." The guests filled them up with candy from the candy bar. The candy bar was color coded to match our colors of blue, pink, and purple. The candy bar was also something that I always wanted, and I have such a sweet tooth, so it was perfect!

What did you find to be the biggest challenge/hurdle in planning a wedding?

The biggest challenge was finding the time to get everything done. We had so many great ideas, and I tried really hard to make sure all those ideas were incorporated into the wedding, but some didn't happen because of time.

If there was one thing you could do differently, what would it be?

Not wait so long to work on the smaller details, as those seemed to be the things that took the longest.

Any other tips for brides- and grooms-to-be?

Enjoy the time planning your wedding; it will be there before you know it. Try not to let the stress of planning it ruin all the fun it should be.

Photos by Loving Memories Photography


Ruth & Kevin Philadelphia, PA

Bride's Hometown: Downingtown, PA

Groom's Hometown: Leola, PA

Wedding Date: May 10, 2014

Wedding and Reception Location: Cameron Estate Inn & Restaurant, Mount Joy, PA

Photographer: Morby Photography

Honeymoon: Ambergris Caye, Belize

Best. Scavenger. Hunt. Ever.

Kevin's innovative proposal to his future bride, Ruth, whom he had first met at the graduation party of a mutual friend, involved hiding clues for her to find at various meaningful locations all across the city of Philadelphia. At each location, she found instructions on where to go next. After stops at the restaurant where they first met, the pier where Kevin asked her out, and other special locations, Ruth was eventually led to the final stop on this romantic scavenger hunt - the Ben Franklin Bridge Walkway, where Kevin was waiting to propose.

After a one-and-a-half-year engagement, the two celebrated their marriage with an elegant ceremony and a reception that incorporated some traditions from Ruth's Indian heritage. They gave us a look into their big day and the process of planning their wedding.

Vendors Used:

Cakes: House of Clarendon, Lancaster, PA

Flowers: Floral Designs of Mount Joy, Mount Joy, PA

Bride's Dress #1 (traditional Western dress): David's Bridal

Bride's Dress #2 (Lehenga Choli, a type of Indian dress): Utsav Fashion

Bridesmaids' Dresses: David's Bridal

Groomsmen's Suits: Express

Catering: Provided by Cameron Estate Inn & Restaurant, Mount Joy, PA

Disc Jockey: DJ Steve Vazquez, Silver Sound DJs

Videographer: Michael Hicks

What was the first thing you did when you began to plan your wedding? What inspired you to start there?

The first thing we did was look for a venue. We potentially needed a long lead-time to get the venue we wanted for the time of year we wanted, so we started early. We wanted the perfect place; we knew the venue would set the tone for the entire wedding.

How did you choose a style for your wedding? What unique touches did you add to your wedding?

We wanted a contemporary Western wedding but with a few unique touches to incorporate the traditions of Ruth's family, who are originally from Tamil Nadu, India. For example, Ruth wore a traditional Western dress for the ceremony but changed into a Lehenga Choli for the reception. Also, the main courses for dinner were traditional American dishes, but we included Indian appetizers, such as samosas and pakoras.

How did you select the bride's dress, the groom's attire and the outfits of the members of the wedding party? Did you know what you wanted in advance or base your decision on what you saw while shopping?

Ruth always wanted an A-line dress with lace and cap sleeves. For the bridesmaids, Ruth knew what color she wanted the dresses to be and found a style that complemented hers.

We wanted the groomsmen's outfits to have a more modern, slim-fitting cut, and Kevin was happy to pick out groomsmen's pants and vests from Express, one of his favorite clothing stores. We were also able to cut down on costs, since buying the pants and vests at Express cost less than a rental, and the groomsmen were able to keep their outfits.

Out of the many skilled photographers in the area, how did you choose one?

We knew having a great photographer was extremely important to us, and we budgeted to spend more on this aspect of our wedding than others. We wanted nothing but the best. After doing a search online, it was an easy decision for us to choose Morby Photography. His photography is absolutely stunning, and his artistic abilities really stood out.

How did you incorporate the tastes and personalities of both the bride and the groom into the wedding?

We were on the same page as far as what the wedding would look like, because our goal was for the wedding to be a blessing to those involved and those attending.

What favors did you provide for your guests and how did you decide on them?

We provided heart-shaped bottle stoppers for the guests. We decided on them because we wanted a gift guests could use.

What did you find to be the biggest challenge/hurdle in planning a wedding?

Our biggest hurdle was our busy schedules. We were both working full time, and Kevin was also doing graduate school part time. Luckily, we were in agreement with most of the decisions that needed to be made.

If there was one thing you could do differently, what would it be?

We would keep everything the same, except we would have hired a wedding planner to set it all up for us!

Any other tips for brides- and grooms-to-be?

Book things early and follow a to-do list. This will reduce potential hassles and keep things moving.

Where did you go on your honeymoon? Why did you select this location?

We went to Ambergris Caye, Belize. We wanted to go somewhere that both of us had not been to before. We were not disappointed; we enjoyed staying at a fabulous resort, Las Terrazas, and were able to relax and explore the diverse marine life in the coral reef around Ambergris Caye.

Photos by Morby Photography


Jessica & Christopher Lancaster, PA

Bride's Hometown: Millersville, PA

Groom's Hometown: Willow Street, PA

Wedding Date: June 14, 2014

Wedding & Reception Location: Regents' Glen Country Club, York, PA

Photographer: R.L. Heller Photography, Lancaster, PA

Honeymoon: Hilton Head, S.C.

Jessica and Christopher are a match made in digital age heaven. The two shared a substantial number of "mutual friends" on Facebook and recognized each other from going out and about in Lancaster. Chris eventually sent Jessica a message through Facebook, and she and her friends proceeded to play digital detective and investigate his page. Chris' profile passed the test - "I realized he seemed like a good guy!" Jessica explains. The rest was history - Facebook messages led to text messages, which eventually led to a first date.

After being engaged for two years, Chris and Jessica celebrated their wedding day with a gorgeous outdoor ceremony and elegant reception in a beautifully decorated tent. Jessica answered our questions about her wedding planning process.

Vendors Used:

Florals and Decor: Petals With Style, Lancaster, PA

Linens: Special Occasions and Queen Street Linens, Lancaster, PA

Tent Draping and Lighting: Shumaker PDT, Lancaster, PA

Invitations, Place Cards, and Table Numbers: Designs by Renee, Lancaster, PA

Disc Jockey: Freez Entertainment, Lancaster, PA

Cake: Rosie's Creative Cakes, Manheim, PA

Bride's and Bridesmaids' Dresses: Renaissance Bridals, York, PA

Hair and Makeup: LUXE Salon, Lancaster, PA

Favors and Bridal Shower Venue: Moon Dancer Winery, Wrightsville, PA

Ceremony Music: Cherrywood String Quartet

Rehearsal Dinner: John Wright Restaurant, Wrightsville, PA

What was the first thing you did when you began to plan your wedding? What inspired you to start there?

For me, first and foremost was getting the venue booked, followed by the florist and the DJ. You can't really choose anything else until you choose your venue. I have always loved Regents' Glen; every picture I had ever seen of it was beautiful. The best part is that it's almost a secret place; none of our friends or family members had ever attended a wedding there, so it was something different. When we went to tour the venue, it was love at first sight!

The gardens are picturesque with two ponds with fountains to top it off. The flag stone patio for cocktail hour was expansive and surrounded by additional gardens, which gave the guests time to take a private moment together and enjoy a walk and the view. The reception was on top of the golf course in a massive white tent that had plenty of space for a large wedding and a blank canvas for me to make my dream day a reality.

Next on my list was my florist and decor design. I knew right away that I wanted to work with Stacia from Petals With Style; she is truly a master of her craft and such a joy to work with! I knew exactly what I wanted, and she made it happen. I am also a firm believer that a DJ can make or break your wedding. I wanted a DJ that would have my guests on the dance floor all night; DJ Freez and his crew are the best in the business, so you need to book them way in advance.

How did you choose a style for your wedding? What unique touches did you add to your wedding?

I wanted something soft and romantic but trendy and modern at the same time. I chose blush, gold, and cream as my color palette because it had the soft and romantic touch I was looking for but also left a lot of options open for decor and design. The color palette was carried through the entire reception - from the linens to the center pieces to the invitations. I couldn't be happier with the way it turned out.

A unique touch I added was some really cool linens called confetti. They were a champagne/gold color with a raised fabric that you could literally run your fingers through. They really helped tie in the modern feel.

How did you select the bride's dress and the outfits of the members of the wedding party? Did you know what you wanted in advance or base your decision on what you saw while shopping?

I owe my dress selection to my matron of honor and best friend, Ciara Young. The first time we went to look for dresses, Ciara was eight months pregnant with her second daughter. Being the wonderful friend that she is, she dragged herself along to watch me try on dresses. When we got to Renaissance, there was a beautiful dress on display; I initially walked right by it because it was nothing like I had in mind. Ciara said to me, "I think you should try this on," pointing at the dress. I said, "No, it's not for me." She responded, "Look, I am eight months pregnant; I feel huge, my feet hurt, and I'm tired, but I'm here and you will try this dress on for me." And guess what: I loved it!

The bridesmaids' dresses also came from Renaissance. My bridesmaids have different body types, so finding a dress to flatter everyone was a little daunting. We decided on a floor-length blush chiffon dress with a sweetheart neckline. The girls all looked beautiful, and the dresses were a hit with everyone.

Out of the many skilled photographers in the area, how did you choose one?

I had looked over Renee's pictures several times prior to contacting her, and every time I looked at them, I liked them more and more. She has a flare that sets her apart, and we hit it off when we met. She was familiar with my other vendors, and she was so easy to talk to. The day of the wedding she had a game plan but didn't make us feel stressed out or rushed. She also has a great sense of humor and made the day fun for us.

How did you incorporate the tastes and personalities of both the bride and the groom into the wedding?

Chris and I had very different tastes and styles when it came to the wedding, so that was a challenge. I am more traditional and structured, while he is more "new age" and go-with-the-flow. We just had to learn to compromise on a lot of things. The overall style of the wedding was traditional, from the invitations to the general outline for the big day. We knew we were having a traditional served meal at the wedding, so we did the opposite for the rehearsal. We booked John Wright for our rehearsal dinner and tried out their artisan brick oven pizzas, which were phenomenal. We had strolling appetizers, salads, and pizza with an open bar. It was nice to give everyone a break and the chance to just kick back and mingle.

Did you provide favors for guests? If so, what were they and how did you decide on them?

Yes, we provided bottles of wine from Moon Dancer Winery in Wrightsville. We had a custom label printed on the bottle; it was the same focal design we used for our invitations. My bridal shower was held there, and I thought it was a really cute idea to incorporate that into the wedding.

What did you find to be the biggest challenge in planning a wedding?

The very end was the most challenging for me. The beginning stages of planning are easy: pick your vendors, get them booked, done! The end is when all the little details creep up on you: table arrangements, place cards, playlists, favors, etc. There is a lot you can't do until right before the wedding day, so it hits you all at once.

If there was one thing you could do differently, what would it be?

Always have a backup plan. Our officiant had a baby two days before our wedding, so he was able to preside over the ceremony but wasn't able to stay for dinner and to give the blessing, which we were not prepared for.

Any other tips for brides- and grooms-to-be?

Have the dreaded budget talk early on and with everyone. This includes your entire wedding party. Some people may not have been in a wedding before - or even attended a wedding to the scale of yours - so they may not know what is expected of them and the cost that can go with it. It's important to let your wedding party know in the beginning what your plans are. If you want to have a bridal shower at a venue, plan to go away overnight for your bachelorette party, want your attendants to have their hair and makeup done, etc., then let them know as soon as possible so no one realizes at the last moment that they can't participate because they weren't prepared. No one likes to talk about money, but it's better to get it out of the way early.

Photos by R.L. Heller Photography


Carley & Kyle Lynchburg, VA

Bride's Hometown: East Earl, PA Groom's Hometown: Terre Hill, PA Wedding Date: May 17, 2014 Wedding Location: Bethany Grace Fellowship Church, East Earl, PA Reception Location: Reading Art Works, Reading, PA Photographer: Jeff Frandsen of Brooke Courtney Photography, Manheim, PA Honeymoon: Sandals Grande Antigua Carley had always wanted to ride in a hot air balloon, so she couldn't help but be a little suspicious that something big was afoot when she was presented with the opportunity to take one. Her soon-to-be fiance Kyle had been stealthy with his planning, however, and he had Carley's best friend arrange the excursion so the ride seemed like a lucky coincidence, not a carefully orchestrated event. Toward the end of the breathtaking ride through the sky, Kyle directed Carley's attention to the road below, where their families - who had actually been chasing them since the balloon took off - were holding a giant banner that read, "Carley, will you marry me?" Kyle got down on one knee and proposed as Carley's best friend and her husband snapped pictures next to them in the hot air balloon's basket. Down below, their families cheered when Kyle yelled down to them, "She said 'Yes'!" "He knows me very well," says Carley of her husband, whom she first met in a high school algebra class. "He created a magical experience that I will always remember, and one that our family and closest friends were also a part of." Ten months later the two pulled off another impressive feat of organization - their beautiful wedding. Carley took the time to tell us about their big day and the planning that went into it. Vendors Used: Officiant: Pastor David Hunter Coordinators: Christine Myers and Karen Weinberger Florist: Trisha Snyder of Trisha's Flowers, East Earl, PA Videography: Nate Martin, Lancaster, PA Bride's Dress: Disney Princess Collection, Alfred Angelo, Lancaster, PA Bridesmaids' Dresses: David's Bridal, York, PA Groom's and Groomsmen's Tuxedoes: Vera Wang Cake: Jules Dos Diaz Caterer: Festive Board Deli and Bakery, York, PA Table Runners - Media Fisher (the groom's grandmother hand-stitched the runners for every table) Favors: New Holland Coffee Company, New Holland, PA Bridal Hair/Makeup: Destinations Hair Studio and Day Spa, The Inn at Leola Village, Leola, PA What was the first thing you did when you began to plan your wedding? What inspired you to start there? The very first thing I did to start planning was begin the search for wedding venues. Of course, in order to actually pick a venue you need to provide the wedding date and approximate guest head count. We knew we wanted May and so we kept three weekends open for possible dates in case there was limited availability. Next, we made a very rough estimate for a guest head count. Most reception locations list the maximum occupancy on their website, which is helpful to rule out venues that would simply not work logistically. Kyle and I wanted to secure the reception venue and the caterer first, because we were anticipating them to be "big ticket items," both in importance and in expense. We also figured caterers and reception venues would book fairly far in advance — and we were right! My reasoning behind deciding on the reception first was so that I could more clearly envision the day. I felt that deciding on the venue would help me decide on a theme and reception decor. When it came to the smaller decisions later on during planning, it was helpful to have the reception location solidified so that I could always mentally refer to the layout, design, and aesthetics of the space. How did you choose a style for your wedding? What unique touches did you add to your wedding? - Choosing a style was really difficult for me. Lots of wedding magazines encouraged me to "pick a theme," because without a clear theme or vision my wedding would be lost and without any hope for redemption — at least that's how I felt. I struggled because I didn't fit any one type of style: was I romantic? classic? rustic? bohemian? natural? It was pretty confusing. I felt the magazine styles didn't really reflect me, so I started with what I knew: I knew I wanted the wedding to reflect the season (spring); I knew I wanted a mostly monochromatic color scheme of black, gray, and white; and I knew I wanted an elegant but still comfortable setting. It was also important to me that the style of the wedding represented Kyle and me as a couple. Kyle and I both felt the wedding should have a formal undertone, and that was a key understanding in helping to decide the style. Developing the style for our wedding became easier when I decided on unique aspects for the day that I couldn't live without. For starters, Kyle and I and our families absolutely love coffee. We had an "open coffee bar" with "all-you-can-drink" coffee at the reception, and the coffee was a signature blend Kyle and I created ourselves. Additionally, I have always loved the look of toile fabric, so I decided to use the fabric as table runners and also to wrap the bouquets. In addition to the grayscale color scheme and toile, I also included silhouettes and several monogram pieces.   How did you select the bride's dress? Did you know what you wanted in advance or base your decision on what you saw while shopping? I have never been good at making decisions. I thought "saying yes to the dress" would be impossible for me because I tend to overanalyze everything and take a long time to make decisions, but my wedding dress shopping experience was not at all how I imagined. I only had to try on four dresses. My mom, sister, future mother-in-law, future sister-in-law, and I were on our way back from a bridal show in Lancaster, and we spontaneously decided to stop in at Alfred Angelo to see what they had. My sister (and maid of honor) was moving to Virginia the following weekend, and I wanted her to be with me when I tried on at least some dresses so we could share the experience. I was in the mood for having fun and for, basically, playing dress-up. Being in that fun mood prevented my over-analytical self to take things too seriously, and I had a chance to enjoy myself. As a result? I fell in love with a dress and didn't have time to overthink my selection. Honestly, I think the spontaneous decision was the best thing I could have ever done. I had a phenomenal bridal consultant who understood my girlhood dream for my wedding dress, and I am extremely grateful for her. As the consultant was lacing up the corset back to the fourth dress, I remember saying, "I think I'm going to like this one." I cried, my mom cried, everyone cried. It was a match made in heaven: the perfect combination of form fitting and princess pouf. It was simple and elegant and everything I ever imagined. Out of the many skilled photographers in the area, how did you choose one? Before I knew the wedding date, reception venue, or my dress, I knew that I wanted to use Brooke Courtney Photography for my wedding photos. I had followed their blog and loved the style and approach of the photos, mainly that they were more candid and more focused on detail as opposed to fixed poses. I can honestly say it was the best decision I made! What favors did you provide for your guests? How did you decide on them? Kyle and I and both of our families love to drink coffee, so we figured that having an "all-you-can-drink"/"open bar" coffee bar would be a big hit. We created our own signature brew to be served all night long. I created custom coffee cup sleeves with our monogram and wedding date for the guests to carry on their coffee cups during the reception. The favors were small bags of ground coffee, which was the same signature blend served during the reception. We wanted to provide our guests with something they would use and enjoy, and since most of them drink coffee, we thought it would be a perfect favor.   Any other tips for brides- and grooms-to-be? Wedding Wednesdays! This practice was helpful during the months leading up to the wedding. Having one day set aside for wedding-only tasks helped me create a to-do list and prioritize tasks that I needed to accomplish, and it helped me stay motivated and be productive because I had one day set aside in the week to focus solely on the wedding. My mom, sister, and I came to love (and sometimes dread!) Wedding Wednesdays. I found it was a great way to delegate specific time to focus on wedding tasks, and, likewise, specific time during the rest of the week to not focus on wedding tasks. Wedding Wednesdays are also helpful because many wedding vendors are busy with weddings during the weekend, so meeting during the week is less chaotic. Additionally, my advice for brides is to pick two or three things that you won't compromise on. The odds are you will have to make some concessions and compromises throughout wedding planning, due to time, budget, feasibility, etc. But picking two or three aspects of the wedding that are most important to you will help keep other parts of wedding planning in perspective. When you look back at those two or three important things that worked out perfectly and just how you imagined, it will help make any other mishaps look even more insignificant. For grooms, I recommend finding your niche. My husband enjoys working with finances and working with his hands, so he was a great help in keeping me on track with the budget and also with some of my DIY projects (mainly the ones that involved saws and other power tools). Photos by Jeff Frandsen of Brooke Courtney Photography
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