by Hope Johnson
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WEDDING TECH TALK

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EXPERT WEDDING-TECH TIPS
to get organized from the start

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So ...I'm ready to tackle a client's save the dates. We have this beautiful illustration of the wedding venue, my favorite script typeface from Rare Bird Font Foundry and we go to add the wedding website to the bottom of the handmade, deckled edge piece.
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.
.
THEN I SAW IT.
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www.WeddingHost.com/US/31458/brideandgroom

My stationery-loving, typography fueled heart shatters just a little bit. I had what I like to call a "come-to-Jesus" with my bride. We opted for a custom domain (a nominal fee of 10 bucks or so for the year), we used the playful wedding hashtag she has already created: www.HitchedToHarrington.com

Crisis averted!

Now I'm no tech-guru, but I'm sharing THREE Wedding-Tech Tasks you MUST tackle first to avoid a stationer's nightmare PLUS make your planning more organized from the start.

Can I get an amen?


PICK YOUR FAV & PIN FOR LATER

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CUSTOM DOMAIN NAME

I am listing this first just in case you get tech-bored and leave me. There are plenty of wedding website services out there that will allow you a free wedding website!

Do yourself a favor and purchase a custom domain (I use GoDaddy.com). It's usually about 10 bucks for a year and you can apply that domain to your own free wedding website or build your own (I like Squarespace.com to build your own).

By doing this, you will:
-snatch a completely unique-to-you website title
-be able to easily translate that in conversation to guests
-and MOST importantly (in my opinion), avoid a really long, jumbled URL on your stationery


…because
www.WeddingHost.com/US/31458/brideandgroom
isn’t as pretty as

www.HitchedToHarrington.com

…put that wedding hashtag to work!

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CREATE A SEPARATE WEDDING EMAIL

Filter ALL your wedding emails to one email account to easily access information, contracts, and vendor questions. Don't miss a beat, message, retainer, or important message!

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APPLY FOR A CREDIT CARD

I’ve had a lot of brides use credit cards with a point system, such a frequent flyer miles (hello free honeymoon airfare) to use for only wedding-related expenses.

This is a great way to easily keep track of true costs too (which may or may not be a good thing for whoever is fronting this bill)!

 



NEW AROUND HERE?

Snatch up The ONE Page Wedding Planner (yes, one page) for an easy, at a glance look at ALL things planning.

 
 
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...because I have some intense boards geared towards inspiring your story!

I once designed a stationery suite based off of a kitchen photo (because sometimes you just feel what you need to feel to get inspired).


 
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I'm Hope. The inky hands and freckled face behind the studio doors of TLBC. 

I believe in paper, words, and romance.

...and something beautiful happens when you combine them all together - be it a Jane Austen novel, a handwritten note, or as you've presumably guessed it - wedding stationery.
 

 

Plan your wedding BEFORE you're engaged

Call me crazy. ...but don’t tell me you don’t have a hidden Pinterest board with your secret
wedding crazies locked up in a grid of “one-day” dreams. Amiright? Of course I’m right! Because I know I would and on most days, I consider myself a fairly normal adult.

From greenery centerpieces to cute little chalk painted flower girl and ring bearer signs singing “here comes the bride,” courting their way down the aisle, yes ma'am you've got it pinned. Meanwhile, that chalkboard holding flower girl walks down the aisle of said Pinterest wedding and she just made a mental note to go ahead and start her secret Pinterest board.

 

So maybe you and your significant other have already talked about tying the knot, but you haven’t officially said “yes” yet. Maybe you follow all the stories on How He Asked, dreaming of submitting your own someday. Maybe you know you’ll want a short engagement whenever that time comes! Either way...

Get the bulk of your planning done BEFORE you’re engaged - because hey, it’s never too early.

SO LET'S GET TO IT...

01. Priority Vendors: Make a list of priority vendors. Priority vendors are vendors that have a
long lead time and often book up far in advance.

-wedding planners
-the venue
-photographers
-bands or DJs


02. Set the Season: If an engagement is on the horizon and the subject with your future hubs is
something you guys talk about freely, perhaps plan a tentative season. If you know you want to
get married in the summer, start thinking about seasonal decisions:

-floral inspiration
-color pallets
-appropriate seasonal menu options for reception dinners


03. Word from the Wise: Talk to close family members or friends that have already been through the ropes. You'll likely get an ear full of references, maybe some unasked for guidance, and a “I wish I would/wouldn’t” have done list.

Me? I wish I would have cut my guest list in half for a smaller, more intimate feel. OH, and I wish I would have hired a videographer! 

Planning ahead and saving for the big day? Download The Budget Generator and Expense Tracker here.

Don’t poke fun, but I’m kind of a spreadsheet nerd. I get it from my dad. This budget and expense tracker is formula-driven. Type in your expected overall budget and Voilà, the numbers magically formulate (based on common industry standards) to what you can expect to spend.

...then track how well you behave! Don't worry, there are directions for you non-spreadsheet people.

OH another thing you may love. The ONE Page Wedding Planner. That's right. One page... I managed to comfortably fit a year's worth of to-do's on to a printable letter size sheet of paper. Stick it on your fridge ...your workspace wall. 

Happy planning to ya... errrr ...pre-planning!


hostingHope JohnsonComment
Summer Tea Cocktail Recipe

Summer is well before us, in all its glory. The locust sing their songs well in to the evening. There are swimsuits hanging to dry. The freezer is full of homemade popscicles and the days simply aren't long enough. 

I'm a natural born summer lover. With a May birthday, I'm a bit forced to love the summer. Now, May is technically spring, yes, but in Louisiana, we go straight from winter to summer around this time and I'm always itching for that first sweat first thing in the morning heat. Don't get me wrong, that heat becomes overbearing, but that's when you just need to find some water to dive in to.

There's no pressure during those summer months. Kids are out of school, vacations are in the works, usual bedtimes seem to be just a little later... My favorite part of summer are all the impromptu get-togethers that inevitably happen. Friends end up piling together as the little kids wear themselves chasing fireflies and the grown ups talk about the same ole' high school stories we always talk about. There are summer infused foods, lots of ice-cream (with way too many sprinkles), and beat-the-heat cocktails like this tasty one from Ashlyn Holmes of Shirley and Eadie, a blog about food, fiber arts, homemaking, gratefulness, and love.

Ashlyn is just the best thing on earth and on a mission to soak up the littlest simplest moments of our everyday and give thanks for them all. If you're not a follower of her blog or instagram, you should be! I reached out to Ashlyn for a sweet summer cocktail and as usual, she didn't disappoint. 


SUMMER TEA COCKTAIL

Serves 4

Ingredients
4 tsp. Piper and Leaf Sweet Dixie Tea (or your favorite summer loose leaf tea)
Fresh Mint
Vodka
Lemons
Agave


Directions

1. Place loose leaf tea in a pitcher or teapot and add 3 cups of water. Place in the fridge and allow to brew for at least six hours.

2. Place 2 to 3 mint leaves in the bottom of each glass a long with the juice of half a lemon and muddle.

3. Add an ounce of vodka to each glass.

4. Using a strainer, top each drink with tea leaving a bit of room in the glass for ice.

5. Add ½ tsp. of agave to each drink and stir.

6. Top with ice and serve.


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Another fantastic reason why I love Ashlyn and all that she stands for: she knows all kinds of great things! ...like this company, Piper & Leaf. Local to Huntsville, Alabama, this tea artisan tea company has some amazing products, from subscriptions, to locally foraged tea blends, to wedding favors to ...YES, a traveling wedding tea bar service! Can you imagine how charming a tea bar at a wedding would be? I can't get enough of that thought.

Check out more about Piper & Leaf's wedding catering (and all of their lovely goods) HERE and check out Ashlyn's blog HERE and add them both to your arsenal of amazing things. 


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A little bit more about Ashlyn. Ashlyn has curated the blog, Shirley and Eadie, named after both of my sweet and strong grandmothers. ...a space to share her love of fiber arts, good home cooking, and southern traditions which she is inspired by the two lovely ladies mentioned above. 

Ashlyn lives with her husband in their 1920s farmhouse and for that reason alone, I'm a big fan and follower. I'm a sucker for charming old homes.


Check her out on instagram (click here).

Pure Vintage Rentals - a must have Louisiana wedding vendor

The south. The south brings with it a wedding scene like no other. From antebellum plantation homes to the second lines in New Orleans, it's always a magical existence when you are greeted and graced with the formal hospitality of a southern gathering such as a wedding. The wedding industry in South Louisiana is tailor made to style nothing short of a the perfect alluring garden soirée or the captivating panorama of the Mississippi River as it gracefully mantles the city of New Orleans. There are so many hidden gems.

Ashley Smith of Pure Vintage Rentals is one of those hidden gems. Not so hidden actually; featured on many national publications, such as Style Me Pretty, Once Wed, Ruffled Blog, Junebug Weddings, and Artfully Wed, to name a few.

 Photography |  Catherine Guidry  of New Orleans

Photography | Catherine Guidry of New Orleans

PV Rentals has a timeless meets boho meets industrial aesthetic found through out their pieces and when mixed together, always create a beautiful mesh of an experience for her clients and their guests.

 Photography |  Catherine Guidry  of New Orleans

Photography | Catherine Guidry of New Orleans

Ashley has curated a jaw dropping collection of antiques, architectural pieces, accessories, and furnishings. She and her husband find her rentals traveling the gulf and east coast, from New Orleans to North Carolina. Her husband, being the handy man he is, has also built many of their pieces.

Ashley's ideal client has a keen understanding over the overall wedding vision, entrusting PV Rentals and their experience to execute the design. An intimate and organic backyard wedding, marked with candle light, floral infused table-scapes, and a cozy lounge area makes a good day for PV Rentals.

 Photography |  Catherine Guidry  of New Orleans

Photography | Catherine Guidry of New Orleans

 Photography |  Catherine Guidry  of New Orleans

Photography | Catherine Guidry of New Orleans

 Photography |  Catherine Guidry  of New Orleans

Photography | Catherine Guidry of New Orleans

 Photography |  Catherine Guidry  of New Orleans

Photography | Catherine Guidry of New Orleans


Note from TLBC:

I've worked with PV Rentals both personally and commercially and Ashley is nothing short of remarkable. She has a fine eye for detail and has a homey, organic feel to everything her designer heart touches, and she's adorable.

You won't regret adding this gem to your wedding vendor list.

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Dinner napkins, dollies, and southern women

Hosting at home is just something my family does. ...and it's usually to the nines. For a while, I didn't know the difference between napkins and dinner napkins. Paper plates, my grandmother would have a heart attack. You use glass plates. ...and a different type of glass plate depending on what you're serving. A few weeks ago, I was out and about and I get a frantic call from my mom, "are you going to town?" 

Side Note: I (along with everyone I've ever known) live in a small town near Baton Rouge. Baton Rouge is just NOT that far away, maybe 15-20 minutes from our small town. So I always laugh when my mom asks "are you going to town?" like it's a huge day-long endeavor.  

She needed cream dollies, not stark white, not too beige, CREAM. I'm not sure if this is a southern thing, but dollies are the small, ornate mandala looking lace paper circles that you'd place under a plate of sweets. My mother and aunts are obsessed with them and it's become a family joke. 

My dear cousin will soon be wed this April and at the end of March, the family threw her a bridal shower to celebrate. My mother, grandmother, and aunts put their hosting genes together to host nothing short of a good ole southern brunch for the bride to be. 

I'm the girl with the sweets. If you have a cookie up at the register I can buy, you bes' believe I'm leaving with it. Open my purse, you'll find something with sugar to eat. My sweet mom had in her mind to have these hand painted cookies for the shower, no doubt something she saw on Pinterest in the middle of the night. So I tried my hand at them. Don't judge, they are so ...rough. But GOODNESS they tasted good.

My other cousin (we have lots of cousins) is the baker behind The Bakery Bar in New Orleans and when I asked her for a solid sugar cookie recipe, I knew she wouldn't disappoint. The fondant and watercolor tutorial was my own Pinterest find. You can check that out here.

Fondant with pretty flowers or not, the sugar cookie recipes is below, passed on with love.

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CLASSIC SUGAR COOKIE RECIPE

you will need:
-
8oz of butter (two sticks)
-8oz of sugar (about one cup)
-1 large egg
-1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
-1/2 teaspoon of salt
-12oz of flour (about two cups)
-1 teaspoon of baking powder

instructions:
Combine your butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla in a standing or hand-mixer. Once combined evenly, mix in the remaining ingredients. That's it, seriously. 

It's best to wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate it until it is completely chilled, but once chilled, you can roll out the cookies, wrap the dough in a cylinder shape, or shaped in to round balls. The world is your oyster. 

Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.

For the cookies above, I shaped about 3 tablespoons of dough in a round ball, flatted out the ball with the bottom of a glass drinking cup, and baked for 10 minutes. I wanted the cookie and the fondant to be the same size for more of a biscuit affect, so I took a cookie cutter to the cookie after it was baked.

- - - 

I love encouraging at-home hosted parties, on the occasion of a bridal shower or as simple as a porch party. Our family loves a good porch party. ...you know, the ones that started as a simple visit, but then you end up on the porch well in to the night telling the same ole stories you've heard 1000 times! Those are the best. 

...and I always encourage cookies.

Holiday Hosting for a Christmas Bridal Shower

So my family ...we host. Thanksgiving and Christmas, it's the fine china and the place settings. It's the toast and the prayer. We are by no means "fancy" people, but hosting and gathering has been in our blood, whether it's a formal meal at the dining room that we are otherwise not allowed in or a simple back porch party. We host. We gather. 

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I recently hosted a bridal shower at my home for my best friend. You know those friends of yours that you've had your whole life prior to now and know you'll have from here on out? ...she's one of those. So I wanted this day to be special. 

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The shower fell out around the Christmas holidays so I was in overdrive making sure all the halls were decked. I wanted to incorporate an "Italian Greenery" theme, as the future Mr. and Mrs. will visit Italy for their honeymoon ...and because yes, greenery!

My holiday cheer started way before the holiday season began prepping for this fun day. The bride-to-be was surrounded by good food, good company, and good cheer. 

We topped off a good day with cheers to the bride.
Hit of the day: Spiced Apple Cider
(recipe below)

SPICED APPLE CIDER

Ingredients:
6-8 lemons
1/2 cup of honey
3 tablespoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
64 oz of apple cider
16 oz of caramel vodka

Step One:
Pour 64 ounces of apple cider and 16 ounces of caramel vodka into a large glass jar or container.

Step Two:
Add the juice of 6-8 lemons (to your liking).

Step Three:
In a small bowl, mix your 3 tablespoons of sugar with equal parts water until well blended. Then pour into your glass jar (a simple syrup or vanilla bean syrup would be a good substitute).

Step Four:
Add your honey and cinnamon (if you have local honey, even better).

Step Five:
STIR ...then stir some more. Use a strainer spoon or strainer funnel to get any clumps of honey or lemon seeds out.

ENJOY.
You can serve this hot or cold! Feel free to embellish it with a lemon wedge or apple slice! 


Wishing you all the holiday love and season. I hope you find some time to rest and read a book. I hope you indulge in some good food (or some cake) and bake so many different types of cookies.

...and ON to the New Year!


event photography |  Darian Kacey
rentals (porch farm table, love seat, candles, table runner) | Pure Vintage Rentals