Category: Wedding Stories

It’s the most debated, agonized over and controversial topic in wedding planning. Do you invite kids to your wedding or ask your guests to make it a date night? For most, it feels like an easy decision no matter which side you land on. But often, there are unexpected circumstances that might lead you to cut the kids off your guest list. We asked five brides who had kid-free celebrations about their decision and how they ensured their guests understood it was an adults-only wedding.

Kate’s Reason: Our Venue Was Teeny Tiny
Kate and her husband Rich were married last October in a quaint B&B in rural Minnesota. It was a picturesque setting: a sweet garden ceremony followed by cocktails and an intimate dinner. It was their dream location but it came at a cost. “After we made our guest list, it was clear that our venue simply couldn’t accommodate all the children. For a moment, we considered changing our location, but quickly decided we weren’t willing to sacrifice our wedding-day vision”, says Kate. “Since our head count was fairly low – just 54 guests – it was easy to make a few phone calls to explain our decision to affected family members and friends. Everyone was very gracious and totally understood.”

Hannah’s Reason: The Kids Would Out-Number Adults
Hannah and her wife Sara had a laugh-out-loud moment when they made a startling realization about their guest list. “I met my wife when we were 39 and 41 so our friends were in that phase of life when it’s all about the kids”, says Hannah. “Don’t get me wrong, I love them all dearly, but our invited friends had a collective 56 children ranging from newborn to twelve year old. When we counted them all up we looked at each other absolutely bewildered.” Hannah and Sara decided to only invite a few children who were close family members. The tricky part was communicating the please-leave-the-kids-at-home message to their other guests. In the end, they decided to take a direct approach. “We added a small enclosure card and slipped it in with the invitations that were being sent to our guests with children. We carefully crafted the message so it felt fun. It said, ‘while we love your littles, we ask that you please make it a date night! A list of local babysitters is available on our wedding website.’”

Maria’s Reason: We Wanted to P-A-R-T-Y
Maria and Tony knew exactly what they wanted their wedding day to be all about: FUN. “There was never any question that we would not be inviting kids to our wedding. We knew what we wanted our day to be like, and that did not include children crowding the dance floor”, says Maria. She continues, “I’m sorry if that sounds harsh, but the biggest line item on our budget was the open bar! We wanted to party!” Maria chose to use her response cards to make her adults-only wedding plan clear to her guests. “It was simple. On our response cards we added the word ‘adults’ to the ‘will attend’ line. So it read ‘_ adults will attend.’ Maria also added a note on their wedding website and let the news spread word of mouth. It worked like a charm! Not a single child was brought to their wedding.

Ella’s Reason: TBH, I Just Didn’t Want Kids at My Wedding, Okay?
The thing is…you don’t owe your guests a reason for not inviting kids to your wedding. Ella debated about whether or not she wanted a kid-free wedding for months. “My mother-in-law was adamant that we invite children. She didn’t want family members to feel like they had to make a choice about whether or not to attend our wedding based solely on childcare,” says Ella. “We love children dearly, but when I pictured our wedding day, it simply didn’t include them.” Ella continues, “when we ordered our wedding invitations, I added a small line of text at the bottom of the invitation that read ‘adults only ceremony and reception’ which was impossible to miss. I didn’t want to beat around the bush or feel like I needed to offer a reason or apology. After all, it was our day!”

Meredith’s Reason: I Had a Slim Budget!
Meredith and Bradley had a huge wedding on a small budget. “Our guest list topped 250 people and yes, that was without kids! We both have large families and are social butterflies. We knew we wanted a big wedding, but it was also important that we stay on budget so we had to make a difficult decision” says Meredith. She quickly discovered the expense of having children attend your reception can be monumental. “Our reception venue had kid-friendly meals, but they were $20 a head. Cutting kids off our guest list saved us over $1,000 and honestly, I didn’t miss having them there. Don’t tell their parents!” Meredith communicated her choice in two places. “We added text that said ‘adults only, please’ on our response cards. We also addressed the inner envelopes to the invited guests only. Since we did invite a few older teens, this was the perfect way to clarify who was invited and who was not.”

Product shown:  Whom My Soul Loves Invitation with Free Response Postcard

Personal Touches | Ann's Bridal Bargains
Adding personality into a wedding is important. It’s your wedding- it should feel that way. There are a variety of ways you can add pieces of your style into your big day. From smaller pieces like your save the dates, songs that play at certain points of the ceremony and your reception decorations to larger pieces like your wedding dress, your venue and the food that is served— get creative. The most important thing is that the end result makes you happy and reflects you and your spouse.

To see a wedding with a great personal touch, let’s look to Brittany and Shane. These two added a unique and meaningful element of themselves into their wedding day. For their photos, they danced in the street-much like they had on one of their first dates.

Personal Touches | Ann's Bridal Bargains

As if that wasn’t sweet enough, check out these pictures from their wedding ceremony. Awww. Such love is shared between these two- it couldn’t be more obvious.

Personal Touches | Ann's Bridal Bargains

Personal Touches | Ann's Bridal Bargains

Personal Touches | Ann's Bridal Bargains

Personal Touches | Ann's Bridal Bargains

Thank you to Craig Hodge Photography for these beautiful images. 

destination wedding details
As a Minnesota girl, I was super excited when my friend Janelle asked me to shoot her wedding in Merritt Island, Florida. The weather was getting pretty chilly in my hometown at that time, so I was eager to visit the beaches of sunny Florida!

Thomas and Janelle's Florida Wedding

Thomas and Janelle’s big day was held at a gorgeous rental house on the Banana River, and the ceremony was at the edge of beautiful woods covered in Spanish moss. The whole thing was so picturesque, which worked really well for me as the photographer!

destination wedding details

Janelle took care of many of the details herself, which was a great personal touch to the whole event. She pre-made bridal party bouquets of dried flowers, and then added fresh flowers to the same bouquets on the day of the wedding. Centerpieces were simple and adorable, made of bottles, hole-punched tin cans, and more dried and fresh flowers. The dessert was even homemade – two kinds of bread pudding, the groom’s specialty!

view from Banana River

The reception was held on the edge of the river, right by the huge dock going out into the water. The dock was also beautifully lit with hole-punched cans and candles, which made it one of many cozy retreats for guests who needed a break from dancing.

Congratulations, Tomas and Janelle! It was truly a day to remember.

Any bride will tell you that your wedding day flies by faster than any other… and any wedding photographer will agree! From uncontrollable lighting to chaotic schedules, wedding day photography can pose a few challenges — which begs the question, do all wedding photos have to be from the wedding day?

We came across this styled photo shoot from Terra Cooper Photography, and thought it was a great option for couples that want to get the perfect shots. Jennica and Bryan were able to capture some amazing “wedding photos” long after their wedding day had passed. This post-wedding shoot was awesome because the couple and photographer had all the time in the world to get beautiful photos rather than hurry to hungry guests at the reception. Jennica and Bryan were also able to pick any location(s) and time of day, which allowed them to get the gorgeous lighting you see here.

Save money on your post-wedding shoot by doing hair and makeup at home with a little help from friends or family. Additionally, asking a photographer friend to experiment with lighting techniques on you is a great way to nix paying more for photography!

No matter how it’s done, scheduling a styled shoot for after your wedding (or before if you’re okay with your man seeing your dress early) is a great way to help ease some stress on your wedding day and capture photographs you’ll cherish forever.

Thanks to Terra Cooper Photography for the gorgeous photos!

Wedding Style Photo Techniques Wedding Style Photo Techniques

Blake & Maurina's Military Wedding
In honor of Veteran’s Day, we’re featuring a real wedding — military style! Meet Blake and Maurina Rondeau. Their friendship began in eighth grade band class. After being friends for quite some time, Blake asked Maurina to be his girlfriend in the stairwell of their high school. The two would remain good friends through high school and post secondary endeavors.

In 2010, Blake came home to Minnesota from being stationed as a Marine in Camp Pendleton, California. While home on pre-deployment leave, he asked Maurina to coffee at the Caribou Coffee shop they had often visited throughout high school. They were only supposed to talk a couple of hours, but the hours turned into an all-day event. Later that night they went to Wild Bill’s and danced the night away until finally they had to separate. Blake leaned in and kissed Maurina as the snow fell and they said their goodbyes.

Blake was deployed overseas for ten months while Maurina finished college. They Skyped and sent letters to one another as often as they could. She kept him motivated with care packages from home and he would try to call whenever possible. She was waiting at the airport with his family when he made it home from deployment. They had managed time and distance and made the pledge to never separate themselves again.

Blake & Maurina's Military Wedding

They were married on an unusually cool day in July of 2013. They ran in and out between rain showers to capture as many pictures as possible. The ceremony was held in Eagan, Minnesota and the reception was held at the Burnsville Performing Arts Center. They had just over 250 guests attend and it made for a loud and joyful reception.

Thank you to Meg Ann Photography for sharing photos of Blake and Maurina’s beautiful wedding.

Rustic Wedding Details
There are few wedding venues as romantic as the vineyard, and we absolutely love this intimate vineyard wedding photographed by Melanie Soleil Photography.

Molly Manning and Nick Guisinger planned a northern California destination wedding at her family’s vineyard in Grass Valley. The decorative details are adorable! And, of course, the setting was gorgeous.

Molly and Nick's Vineyard Wedding

Gray and grapevine purple make up the color scheme for this vineyard wedding. Pops of brilliant colors like pink, red and orange create an unforgettable wedding bouquet.

Romantic Vineyard Wedding

Rows upon rows of grapevines become the backdrop for this simple but elegant wedding ceremony. The whimsical arch of tangled wooden branches is stunning.

Rustic Wedding Details

The rustic wedding decorations sprinkled throughout this vineyard wedding reception are fabulous. Canning jars, burlap, lace and wooden crates create the perfect atmosphere for romance and relaxation.

Thank you to Melanie Soleil Photography for providing these beautiful photographs.

I love wedding planning – anything and everything about it. I’ve always been the person my friends would come to for wedding planning advice, so when I got engaged, I was so excited it was finally my turn!


The Planning
We were engaged for about 15 months, giving me plenty of time to plan (or so I thought!). I was still in college, which meant school, an internship, work, and wedding planning kept me plenty busy! I’m pretty organized, so I didn’t get too stressed out. Plus, I had the greatest help I could ask for — my parents. Yes, BOTH of my parents. You don’t see too many dads get involved with planning but I’m a “daddy’s girl,” so he jumped at the chance. He came to every vendor meeting from decorating to catering. It helped that I lived only 30 minutes away from home.

Brooke and her parents

The hardest part of the wedding planning was the food. My family loves to eat, so naturally it was hard for us to decide what we wanted to serve our guests. We went with a buffet style because it satisfied all of our wants and it accommodated our guests with food allergies. We saved money by not having to pay for a plate service. We also saved money by having our host and hostess serve the wedding cake.

Food at Brooke's Wedding

Brooke and Travis' Wedding Cake

The easiest part of the wedding planning was choosing our photographer. I met Jenn, owner of ElisePhotography, at college. She was a senior when I was a freshman, and shortly after she graduated, she started her own business. Jenn had taken photos of Travis and I before, and we loved the way they turned out. She has such a neat and unique vision, which made our photos stand out from “traditional” photos. Plus, she’s got such a great personality! The day of the wedding, she told me she “always cries at some point at every wedding” she shoots. To me, that shows she truly cares about her clients.

Travis and Brooke

Brooke's Wedding Party

The one part that we decided to splurge on was our DJ. I knew right away that we wanted our guests to be entertained all night, and picking the right DJ was very important to us. We loved our pick! We had an MC and a DJ, which was a little more expensive but they kept the crowd entertained! We played little games throughout the night, which were a huge hit.

I didn’t have a theme starting out, but with my choice in dress and decorations it turned into a “bling” theme of rhinestones and diamonds! If I would’ve had the time, I would have definitely gone the DIY route, but still being in school made that difficult. I would’ve spent hours that I didn’t have trying to make centerpieces, etc. Hiring a local decorator was affordable and saved us a lot of time. We were amazed with her work. She was great from start to finish. She took my fairy-tale dream and made it into reality. We got so many compliments on the décor.

Centerpieces for Wedding

Our ceremony decorations were done by one of my mom’s co-workers, which also saved us money. She doesn’t have any daughters so she really wanted to help! She was so great, she really should be a professional! Ceremony Flowers

We went to our local floral shop (right down the street from my church) and they handled all of our flowers. We had real bouquets and flowers for the whole wedding party, plus a few bouquets at the altar. We used fake flowers for the reception because it was less expensive.

Real Bouquets

The BrideWould I change anything about my day? No. Everything turned out as I thought it would! If you plan on having a big wedding, make sure you’re realistic about the big picture and costs, and remember, there are still plenty of ways to save!

Travis and Brooke's wedding
Travis and Brooke's wedding

I was first introduced to you about a month ago, when I shared my engagement pictures of Travis and me. Well, I just got my wedding pictures back and I couldn’t be more ecstatic! I couldn’t wait to share them with you.

Travis and I got married on May 18, 2013 (two days from my birthday!) at my hometown church in a small rural area. We both knew my pastor really well since I am very involved in my church. Although I’m from a small town, there was nothing “small” about my wedding. We had almost 300 guests, but that doesn’t mean we broke the bank! We found ways to save wherever we could, and we still stayed within our wedding budget.

The Big Day
We couldn’t have asked for a better day. The weather was perfect, and there were only a few minor slip-ups, which nobody noticed except for me. Our photographer, Jenn, did a great job of capturing our day. She knew from the get-go that I LOVE pictures, and I’m very detail-oriented. She wants to make your vision her vision when she’s photographing you — one of the many reasons we went with her. There were some specific shots I wanted (especially the scene from the movie Bridesmaids — my favorite movie!) and she was more than happy to do them.

Bridesmaids movie picture

Brooke's wedding dressdress hanging in churchYes, I did have my dogs in my wedding. I treat my family’s German shepherds, Harley and Chopper (can you guess that my dad is into motorcycles?), like my children. My pastor was so great about letting me have them there to take pictures. They clean up nice for farm dogs, don’t they? Harley and Chopper

German Shepherds and Brooke

Our reception was everything we could’ve hoped for. We had guests sign a photo board
(from Ann’s) along with a photo guest book that I made online. For Travis and I, we had the “I Do” toasting flutes (also from Ann’s) at the head table. They were really cute and added a nice touch to our reception. Guest Book Alternative

Wedding Toasting Flutes

Make sure to stop back on our blog tomorrow to hear about my planning process, as well as more pictures from the big day!