Jul 292016

Wedding Planning Tips – Choosing your Florist and Understanding Wedding Flowers

Flowers, Planning a Wedding, Tips and Opinions Comments Off on Wedding Planning Tips – Choosing your Florist and Understanding Wedding Flowers

Congrats!  You are getting married and you are in the wedding planning process!  Premier Bride Magazine is dedicated to educating you on helpful tips when planning and selecting your wedding vendors!

If you have not figured it out already, there are a lot of different aspects to planning your wedding.  Choosing a florist and picking out arrangements, flowers, and flower décor is an important element to your wedding with many different “moving pats” that effect the price you will pay for your flowers.

At Premier Bride, our mission is to educate brides and grooms on the wedding planning process.  Here are some great tips and things to consider when choosing a florist and selecting your flowers!

Anything with Plants and Flowers, a long time vendor of Premier Bride Magazine and the Premier Bride Expos,  created the arrangements and wrote many of these helpful tips that tell brides and grooms!

Here are some tips about deciding on a florist to use

  • An important consideration is to make sure your florist has a proper cooler to store the flowers in.  Home refrigerators do not hold flowers at the proper temps and will kill your flowers.
  • Ask for references!  Make sure you check out the work that they have done from real weddings.  Remember, anyone can pull pictures off the internet!
  • Just because you see something online or on Pinterest does not mean that it can be duplicated.  Some things to consider, silk flowers might have been used, you don’t know what season it was and the availability of the flowers or what part of the country the image was taken in.
  • Talk to the florist about day of the wedding, make sure they and/or their crew will be there to deliver and fix anything that is needed

Let’s talk about budget!  It is so important to be honest with your florist about your budget.  Almost all wedding can work within any reasonable budget.  It does not mean you will get exactly what  you want, but a true floral professional will be able to present you with comparable alternatives!

  • Ask yourself, are you set on a particular flower or a particular look?
  • There are a lot of elements to determining the price of flowers; time of year and/or the season they grow, the color of the flowers, how many steams you have to order or if there is a minim order
  • The structure of the each arrangement reflects the price
  • The size of the arrangement effects the price
  • The containers of the arrangement effects the price


The bottom line is that a professional, educated florist can present you options.  By being honest about budget and being able to give your florist a vision, they can present you options to make your flowers, bouquets and arrangements for your wedding.

Here are two examples of centerpieces for weddings.  Anything With Plants and Flowers wanted to show similar centerpieces in the same size and color, however, their price is $100 difference because of the flowers.  Remember,  no one is going to know what might be missing in your arrangements!

Owner, Ann LeFiles was on River City Live talking to Eden Kendall about ways to save money when planning your wedding on the First Coast, to see the segment, click here.










Let’s break it down;

$ 125.00 Arrangement










































4 Gerbera Daisy

6 Stock

8 Roses

5 spray Roses

6 Carnations

4 Hydrangea

Here is the $ 225.00 Arrangement











































5 Dalias

8 Garden Roses

4 Jumbo Hydrangea

6 Astilibe

6 Ranunculus

5 parrot tulips

Both of these arrangements look amazing and would be a beautiful table setting for any wedding!  You can see by changing the types of flowers effects the price, but both are equal in size and in color!

Jul 132016

Money Saving Wedding Planning Tips

Planning a Wedding, Tips and Opinions Comments Off on Money Saving Wedding Planning Tips

One of the most popular topics of conversation is how brides and grooms can save money when they are planning their wedding.  It is important to understand, you don’t have to sacrifice hiring quality wedding vendors to save money!


When you are starting your wedding planning process, sit down with your fiancé and establish a budget. Talk with your parents and see if they are going to contribute to wedding financially so you know what you have to work during the planning process.


Sit down with your fiancé and create a list of what are the most important elements of your wedding.  Use this list as a guideline when creating a budget for each element of your wedding.  Remember, it is what is important to you as a couple and every couple is different.  Here is a list of “elements” to a wedding that you can consider when creating your list;

Reception Venue                             Ceremony Site                  Photography                      Videography

Ceremony Musicians                      DJ or Band                           Catering/Food                   Cakes & Sweets

Invitations                                           Wedding Planner             Décor & Rentals                Transportation

Wedding Dress                                 Tuxedo/Suites                  Officiate/Clergy                Flowers

Photo Booth                                      Bar Service                         Wedding Bands                Honeymoon

Hotel/Accommodations                Rehearsal Dinner             Hair & Makeup                  Linens & Place Settings

Favors & Gifts                                    Calligraphy                          Guest Experiences          Other Entertainment


Attend a Premier Bride Expo and pick up your copy of Premier Bride Magazine of Northeast Florida!  The expo allows you to “Speed Date” wedding vendors and can offer discounts!  The magazine is packed with many other tips and advice on all aspects of the wedding planning process!



Wedding Planner Tips

  1. Hiring a wedding planner can save you money in the long run.  Experienced wedding professionals know many tips that can help you save money and eliminate expensive mistakes and misjudgments
  2. If you can’t afford a full wedding planner, consider hiring a Day of Coordinator.  The day of coordinator will work with all of your vendors and confirm times and keep you on schedule all day long
  3. Hiring a coordinator/wedding planner that is newer to the industry might be less expensive than one with many years of experience

Reception Venue Tips

  1. Reduce the number of guests you invite to the wedding!  The more people  you invite, the more of everything you need including; food, invitations, tables, flowers, and more
  2. Reception venues typically have different pricing structures depending on the day of the week.  Saturday’s are the usually the most expensive.  For a more cost effective option, think about a Friday, Sunday or weekday wedding
  3. Having a morning wedding and serving brunch can be a less expensive option in some cases
  4. Time of the year, Jacksonville’s more popular wedding months are October, November, March, April and May
  5. Avoid holiday’s and other major events like TPC or Florida vs. Georgia weekend


Ceremony Tips

  1. Having the ceremony in the same location as your reception saves on transportation costs
  2. Use pre-recorded music instead of live music
  3. Reduce the number of ceremony musicians from multiple musicians to one or two.


Photography Tips

  1. Many photographers have pricing structures that correlate with the number of hours they work, to save money, hire them for 6 hours opposed to 10-12
  2. The time of year and the day of the week can affect the price for your photographer
  3. A lot of photographers also bring a second or third shooter with them, only having one photographer can also save you money
  4. Don’t order your photo album right  away, wait until after the wedding when you can save money to purchase your album


  1. Consider hiring a videographer for fewer hours of coverage or only covering the ceremony part of the wedding
  2. Just like reception venues and photographers, the date of wedding could affect the price
  3. Some videographers are also photographers and vice versa, to save money on both services, considering hiring a company that offers both

Cake & Sweet Tips

  1. Instead of paying for multi-level cake to serve to all of your guests, make a smaller cake for pictures and serve sheet cakes to your guests
  2. Cupcakes can eliminate the “cake cutting” cost at some venues
  3. Having a sweet/candy table can reduce the cost of buying in bulk and you have the containers available

Catering & Bar Service Tips

  1. Smaller guest list means less alcohol you have to serve
  2. Limit your open bar hours so it does not cover the entire wedding reception
  3. Just serve beer or wine and/or have a signature drink
  4. Plated dinners might cost less, but there are additional staff needed to serve
  5. Tell your caterer what budget you have in mind “Per person” – have them discuss options with you to create a menu that fits within your budget
  6. Talk to a few catering companies and get quotes to compare.

Invitation Tips

  1. Size of the envelope, weight and thickness effects the postage rate – take to post office before mailing
  2. Addressing correctly will eliminate the returns, so make  sure you understand the USPS rules for addressing envelopes

Transportation Tips

  1. Having your ceremony and reception at the same location cuts costs on transporting the wedding party
  2. Most transportation companies charge by the hour with a minimum number of hours.  If you are having your ceremony and reception in different locations, have them close together in time to reduce the number of hours

Wedding Dress Tips

  1. All bridal salons have sales racks and many of them will sell you the sample dresses – don’t be afraid to ask
  2. Bridal salons also have trunk shows for wedding dress designers.  These trunk shows typically offer discounts or sales.
  3. Buy your dress 9-12 months out to avoid rush fees

Tux Tips

  1. Attending a bridal show will get you discounted rates on your tux rentals


  1. Reduce the number of attendants to reduce the number of bouquets and boutonnieres you need to have
  2. Fewer wedding guests, fewer number of tables you need to decorate with center pieces
  3. Use flowers that are in season, talk to your florist about flowers that are easier to order
  4. If you are trying to achieve a certain look (height or fullness for arrangements) work with a florist to find alternative flowers that might not be as expensive.
  5. Use the bridesmaids bouquets as centerpieces or to decorate the head table
  6. Florists that have storefronts typically purchase flowers in bulk at wholesale pricing, working with storefront florists could save you money

DJ’s & Musicians

  1. The day of the week and the month of your wedding can affect the price
  2. Larger DJ companies with multiple DJ’s have different rates.  Less experienced DJ’s charge less but still bring great equipment and the customer service is still great
  3. Bridal shows offer discounts
  4. Shorter reception times can reduce the cost
  5. Providing your own ceremony and cocktail music can reduce the DJ cost
  6. Having a wedding coordinator that handles the reception events (dances, cake cutting, bouquet tossing, etc) can reduce the cost of your DJ
  7. Have a bridesmaid or sister that is also getting married?  Booking the same DJ (or the same wedding vendors for that matter) could get you discounts!



Just remember that hiring a true wedding professional will save you money and time in the long run.  Individuals and businesses that work weddings every weekend do it because they love helping brides and grooms create the wedding of their dreams.  Many of them have done hundreds, if not thousands of weddings so and they love to offer advice and tips to their clients….take advantage of their knowledge and experience.  You do not have reduce the quality of wedding vendors you hire…you just have to prioritize what is important to you, be honest with the vendors about budget, and plan smarter!


Jun 202016

Premier Bride Expo – St. Augustine

Bridal Shows, Planning a Wedding, Tips and Opinions Comments Off on Premier Bride Expo – St. Augustine

The Premier Bride Expo is back at the Renaissance Resort at World Golf Village on September 18th from 1-4 pm!

The Premier Bride Expo is the leader in the wedding expos in Northeast Florida.  It’s easy to remember, if it’s not a Premier expo…it’s just average! Each show is packed with 100 to 120 of the top wedding vendors in Northeast Florida area.  Brides and grooms will also be to realize that there are over 20 different wedding categories at each show.  This guarantees that no matter what stage you are in the wedding planning process…there is something for you to find, see and explore at the show.

We encourage you to come as a couple and bring other key decision makers.  Each show offers a great opportunity to meet incredible wedding professionals and connect with them.  Remember, all of your wedding vendors are helping you plan one of the most important days of your life…so pick them wisely!

The September 18th show is the last bridal expo of the 2016 season, so don’t miss out!

Tickets for the show can be purchased in advance, online at www.PremierBrideExpo.com or you can buy your tickets the day of the show at the door. Make sure that you check out our tips on attending a bridal show.  Don’t forget your labels and your comfortable shoes!

We also encourage you to follow us on social media!  We have an Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest account with the handle @PremierBrideFL or follow us on Facebook at Premier Bride of Northeast Florida.  Our official hash tags are #PBExpo #PBNEFL and #PremierBride

Mar 142016

Tips on Wedding Photography by Dan Harris

Photography, Tips and Opinions Comments Off on Tips on Wedding Photography by Dan Harris

Dan Harris is one of Jacksonville’s most decorated and experienced wedding photographer.  He has been shooting weddings for 20+ years and has been with Premier Bride since the beginning of publishing in the local market.  If you are looking to hire a true wedding professional, look no further then Dan!

Below are tips that Dan has complied to help brides and grooms navigate choosing a photographer.

This may be different from what others may say, but: Dan Says: “It’s good to collect images of the type of pictures you like and share them with your photographer before your event. We like to work from a list, especially for the group shots, to insure we don’t miss anyone. We like to sit down a few weeks before the wedding with the bride, her timeline, sample pictures and her list and make sure the photography schedule doesn’t ruin the wedding-day schedule.”


In regards to guest photography: “We want everyone at the wedding to get all the pictures they want on their cameras and mobile devices (but the bride may not want pictures of people taking pictures) so we ask the bride to make it clear to the guests what her desires are and to insure that the paid photographers have priority. We usually ask that the wedding guests don’t move from their seats during the ceremony and not interrupt the flow of the professional group photos as there will be plenty of time during the days activities for guests to get some good pictures without ruining the paid professionals pictures.”


In regards to photo prep: “An engagement session is a great trial-run opportunity for your photographer to see how you do in front of a camera and to show you some posing tips prior to your wedding” – Dan Harris


In regards to makeup: “Professional makeup can improve how the bride looks especially in non-professional pictures, but because we include complete retouching of every picture we take the makeup isn’t as critical to our end results, sometimes less is more.” – Dan Harris


General advice- Dan believes: “Today too many bride’s are disappointed because they settled for unfinished digital files on a CD that they later learned are unable to give them the family heirloom album they had really hoped for. Years later their unrealized dreams are deteriorating in a drawer somewhere. That’s why we include a finished album in every package.”   – Dan Harris


“It’s a wedding day, not a modeling photo session, all photography for the day should naturally flow within the scheduled timeline and not become an interruption to the wedding day.”


Forgot a couple: When making your schedule:  “Be sure to take into consideration when sunset is on your wedding day as that beautiful panoramic view at your location will be gone shortly after sunset” – Dan Harris


ON seeing each other beforehand: “Some photographers encourage couples to break tradition and have a first look several hours before the ceremony so they can get their photographs out of the way without being late to their reception. We don’t require the bride to get her dress dirty several hours before going down the isle. We have found that most brides are a bit nervous before the ceremony and that nervousness will show in the pictures. We work within the brides schedule to get the best photos possible without being an interruption to the day. Pre-planning is the key. Having photographed more than 500 weddings, we have never made a bride late to her own party.”


For more information or to contact Dan Harris Photo Art click here!



Jan 142016

Wedding Video Drones – What You Need to Know

Tips and Opinions, Unique Ideas, Videography Comments Off on Wedding Video Drones – What You Need to Know

What is it? A bird? A plane? Superman?

No it’s a drone, and my goodness, they are EVERYWHERE. Offering a new perspective on your special day, these devices are irresistible, and extremely accessible, even for the most novice of wedding videographers. However, there are a few things to consider before allowing your wedding video to take flight.


1. Certifications: First of all, your wedding videographer must have FAA certification to fly any sort of drone for commercial use. Most videographers get by without this exemption because they are considered “hobbyists.” For example, if your Uncle Larry wants to fly the drone at your wedding for a good meal, that’s fine. However, as soon as you pay your videographer, they are now considered commercial, and in order to fly commercially the FAA or Federal Aviation Authority requires them to have a section 333 exemption, which proves that the drone pilot or the company in question has met all of the requirements to legally fly their drone.

What if my videographer says he doesn’t need a 333 exemption to fly, what should I do?

This exemption is a legal requirement, meaning if you hire someone who is not licensed to fly a drone at your wedding and something happens to cause injury or damage, it will not be covered by insurance, and you could be help liable to for any costs.


2. Experience: Ask to see a reel of their drone work. If they don’t have a specific reel for their drone flights, or their reel lacks variety, it could mean that they don’t have much experience with flying their drones; and an inexperienced drone pilot could prove to be a dark storm cloud on your special day.


3. Quality: Even though drones are new to the consumer market, the market is saturated with many different kinds of drones. Some shoot with a GoPro, which produces a bubble-shaped, fisheye shot. Others shoot high quality resolution, which usually matches the cameras on the ground better. This allows for seamlesstransitions from ground shots to aerial shots.


Also keep in mind, just because a videographer may be excellent shooters on the ground, it does not always mean that they are excellent in the sky. Just be sure to do your homework and rely on your expertise to choose the right videographer to capture your special day. After all, this is your day, and with this information, you know what to look for.


Ethan Moews of Spark Media

Apr 272015

Southern Traditions: Bury the Bottle of Bourbon

Tips and Opinions, Traditions, Wedding Trends Comments Off on Southern Traditions: Bury the Bottle of Bourbon

Southern wedding traditions are the best….at least we think so!  If you live in the South and want to embrace some of the deep rooted Southern traditions during your engagement and wedding we are compiling the top traditions you should embrace to pull off a true Southern affair!  Here is our #1 pick!

Bury the Bourbon Bottle

Do you want perfect weather on your wedding day?  There is a Southern tradition that can help you out!

This may be a bit superstitious, but I can vouch from personal experience that it works!  There are a couple different versions of how to bury the bottle of bourbon  but the one that worked for us went like this; bury a bottle of bourbon, upside down,  at the location of your ceremony, exactly one month (and within the hour) of the day of your wedding.   After the ceremony you get to dig up the bottle and pass it around to the wedding party to celebrate!

The other option is to repeat the same steps but to do it on a where the weather is exactly how you want it on your wedding day.

Burying the bottle at Bowing Oaks Plantation

Here are a couple tips if you want to embrace this tradition;  First; ask permission from the venue.  Many venues in the Greater Jacksonville area will accommodate this and/or have a special spot for this like Bowing Oaks Placation!  If you are getting married at a golf course or wedding venue that might not be keen for digging up the landscaping, ask about bringing in a large flower pot and burying it in that for a month!  Second; have a marker indicating where you buried it.   Our marker got moved due to construction and we dug up the whole side of the tree to just to find it.  It was funny…but it was a bit messy too! Third; save the bottle!  It is a great keepsake, especially if it worked!

Photos by Susan Michal 

Digging up the bottle…where is it?


Found it!


A swig for everyone!

Mar 312015

Wedding Cinematography by Rex Polanis

Tips and Opinions, Videography Comments Off on Wedding Cinematography by Rex Polanis

Brides and grooms of Jacksonville and the surrounding areas, if you are thinking about hiring a videographer for your wedding, please reads these tips by Rex Polanis!  Rex is a professional videographer who owns Drawn In Media LLC.  He wrote this article to help inform brides, grooms and their families about what to look for and how to hire a videographer!

Pricing: Expect to budget between $1,500-$10,000 for quality cinematography. Pricing will reflect many factors: location and distance of prep sites, length of wedding service, special events during reception, amount of cameras to adequately capture said events, and the final product.


Two Types of Wedding video companies:

Good cinematographers are exclusive. The same person you meet and book shows up to your wedding. They take the time to know you and know what to look for. They add a personal touch to your video.


Budget videographers sub out the camera work and sometimes even the editing work for pennies on the dollar and are purely profit driven. They don’t care about the final product. To them all weddings are the same.

A good cinematographer knows the truth is no two weddings are alike.

Many people come to my office and say the price for service is high. My response: regret is even more expensive. In my field there is no relief for buyers’ remorse.


No More Long Form

Quality cinematography is not a long drawn out single static shot uncle bob video. Many clients come to my office expecting that 8-10 hours on location shooting will produce 8-10 hours of footage from each camera. Nothing is further from the truth.


An experienced wedding cinematographer knows when and what to shoot to yield a watchable and enjoyable film. To break it down, during consultations I ask my clients what comes to mind if I ask them to watch a 6 hour wedding video? They always reply with, “Boredom,” and I answer ,”Exactly.” We don’t shoot for boring, we shoot for exciting, dramatic, and fun. We will make your wedding video something you want to watch more than once. It’s really that simple.


The Real Work

Most of the work for cinematographers takes place during editing, after the event has taken place. Every hour of video shot (per camera) takes between 6-10 hours of editing. Multiply that times the 3, 4 or more cameras and you can see that editing time adds up. Why does one hour of footage from one camera take 6-10 hours of editing? The process includes color matching and color grading all the shots, syncing audio from external audio devices, and setting music, syncing footage from multiple cameras and angles, removing the periods of silence or transitions, etc. The point being that it’s not point, shoot, burn. Many hours go into the edit, even for the most seasoned cinematographers.


Raw Footage

Raw Footage. 99% of my clients ask for raw footage. Raw footage is not what many people think it is. It’s similar to a photographer’s raw shoots. Photographers will take between 3-5k shoots during a wedding and deliver about 80-120 on an album. That is less then 1% of the shots they took. Likewise cinematographers will take 1-4k different shots throughout the day and only a fraction of them will make the final cut. Also, we don’t always catch people at their most flattering moment. Think about that shot of Beyonce from superbowl half time show from a few years ago. See Figure 1a below. It’s a terrible image that does not justify her beauty and grace at all. We shoot to create a story and engage the viewer, we leave the bad stuff in the raw footage.





Drones: The FAA recently released guidelines for companies using drones. Most of the rules are just common sense, for example: Do not fly over people or roads with traffic, do not exceed 400 feet in altitude, maintain a safe distance from buildings, trees, and other objects, stay clear of Other Air Traffic etc. I mainly use my drone to film exteriors of venues on days before or after the event has taken place. I operate this way for a few reasons.

1) Drones are LOUD. The last thing you want to hear during your vows is the loud buzzing of a drone hovering over your outdoor ceremony

2) Safety. I hold a private pilots license and even with that, Your wedding day is a once-in-a-lifetime event. Drone technology is still relatively new and can be somewhat unpredictable even in the hands of experienced pilots. It’s not worth risking an unpleasant disturbance or even injury on your wedding day.



Good images are made with good lighting. A experienced cinematographer does one of two things: goes where the good light is, or brings high quality off camera lights. We capture light. With out light there is nothing to capture but darkness. It doesn’t matter how good the camera is, it still needs a light source to capture an image, unless you want grainy green tinted night vision combat shots. Good lighting makes great video.



A good video is nothing without good audio to complement the images. All the shots can be beautiful and breathtaking, but without audio there is no story to follow, no emotion to feel. Without audio, a video becomes boring, flat, and one-dimensional. During a wedding, there are vows, a message, and toasts. Those words tell the story of the couple and are as vital as the images. 50% of the video is audio. If it doesn’t sound good, it doesn’t look good. Try to watch a video with poor audio and you’ll “see” what I mean.


DJ’s and Speeches

As mentioned before, the most important thing at the wedding are the words: the vows, the sermon, and the toasts. Cinematographers should be in charge of the toasts and speeches, NOT the DJ. If you want the speeches to be a part of the video (which they should always be), then the cinematographer should be in charge of them. I learned a long time ago to never leave the audio up to chance or a DJ. I bring top quality microphones and audio recorders to the events I shoot. During the speeches/toasts I run my mics through a splitter and I give one line to the DJ and the other to my audio recorder. I cannot tell you how many times good audio is ruined by inexperienced DJ’s. I cannot stress this enough. After the party, all you will have to remember the speeches is the audio in the video. The speech audio needs to be left to the cinematographer to be captured properly.




We can’t shoot everything. We would love to, but everything is not interesting. A wedding cinematographer has to anticipate who, what, why, when, where, and how to create a compelling and dynamic video in the edit. We look for the moments where all the elements align and produce the moments that are visually and emotionally compelling.



Some people assume that all you need is a good camera and you can shoot good video. This idea is not true and is a reckless assumption that produces many regrets. It’s not the tools, it’s the artist. Da Vinci could create a masterpiece with a pencil, and even better art with the proper tools. Giving the keys of a race car to an inexperienced driver is a mistake waiting to happen. Again I say, it’s not the tools, it’s the artist. Let me drive this nail even further: Anyone can hold a Stradivarius, but not everyone can play a Stradivarius, and even less can play it well.


By Rex Polanis

Owner, Drawn In Media® LLC  – Facebook Link

Mar 232015

Gifts for Your Bridesmaids and Groomsmen

Attendents in Your Wedding, Tips and Opinions, Traditions Comments Off on Gifts for Your Bridesmaids and Groomsmen

Being a gracious bride and groom means taking care of your wedding attendants!

They’re the friends you have known for years or perhaps soon-to-be in-laws who you admire and cherish for their special words of love and laughter.  Wedding attendants play a large part in weddings and it’s no surprise that brides often languish and toil over the perfect wedding attendant gift.

It’s no wonder that you want to give these special people a gift and long-term memory of how important they are in your life.  If some of your attendants are traveling in from out of town how about holding a luncheon for them the day before the wedding?  Local attendants can also be treated to a nice lunch, however in this case you can do it several weeks before your big day.

In regards to the luncheon you might also want to include your mother, the groom’s mother and a few of the other participants who are helping to round out your day.  This could include singers, organists, attendants at your reception and even parents of important people who have helped your day come together in such a unique way.

A special gift is also in order and you might even want to present it to the attendants at the luncheon if you desire.  More than anything the gift is a thank you for all their hard work.  Many times gifts are engraved and can range from a jewelry box to a key chain to a toasting flute.  Jewelry is another gift that just about any woman can appreciate. It has become customary for brides to give the bridesmaid jewelry as their gift or for the bride to pay for the hair and/or makeup to be done!

It used to be the rule, that when giving,   make everything identical with the exception of your maid/matron honor and, for the man, his best man.  However, there are no rules to weddings anymore and if you would like to customize your gifts…go for it.  Just so feelings don’t get hurt….try to make each gift appear of equal value and significance.

Wedding albums are also becoming quite popular since it is a wonderful way to keep your special day in mind.  Perhaps an album engraved with the name of the couple and the date of the wedding might be a nice change of pace for your attendants, both his and hers.  If you don’t just want the professional pictures think about asking your guests to download an app or use a hashtag to capture your wedding images.   Also, ask your wedding planner for ideas and companies that make customized gifts!

Tried and true gifts include:

•           Silver or gold bracelet

•           Silver picture frame

•           Silver engraved compact

•           Silver or crystal engraved jewelry box

•           Wine bottle stopper

•           Wine accessory set

•           Toasting flutes or gold rimmed champagne flutes (perhaps even engraved)

•           Candle with verse

•           Handkerchiefs

•           Engraved key ring

•           Wish pearl and necklace

•           Silver notepad and pen set

•           Compact mirror

•           Roses that are 24k gold

•           Personalized wedding cake topper

•           Silver-plated lip stick case

•           Silver-plated makeup brushes and pouch

•           Silver heart shaped bookmark

•           Bridesmaid bookmark with silk ribbon

•           Engraved bud vase

•           Ribbed glass trinket box

Men also have the responsibility of giving their groomsmen and ushers thank you gifts for their time and loyal friendship.

For men, thoughtful gifts include:

•           Key rings

•           Corkscrews

•           Cuff-links

•           Engraved beer mugs

•           Personalized wallets

•           Business card holder


However, for every tradition in the world there is an opportunity to break it and nowadays some couples are getting more than just a little creative with their attendant’s gifts.  A good way to have the entire group together while enjoying one anothers company is buying concert tickets to Veterans Memorial Area, Ponte Vendra Concert Hall, or St. Augustine Amphitheater  or sporting event tickets to Everbank Field  or even host a dinner for the wedding party after the bride and groom return from the honeymoon.

If it’s a destination wedding you might also opt to pay for your attendant’s airfare or hotel accommodations in order for them to be able to attend.  While some of the attendants you choose to be part of your special day might be able to afford a trip to the South Pacific, others might have to say no.  An excellent gift in this case is just offering to get them to the destination at no charge or offer them a discounted room rate.  Once there, it’s certain that your attendants will also be able to relax and enjoy your special day with you.

Whatever you decide make sure it reflects the fact that these special attendants realize how much you appreciate their time and efforts spent on your behalf.

Mar 152015

Tips on Videography by Take One Produstions

Tips and Opinions, Videography Comments Off on Tips on Videography by Take One Produstions

Thinking about having a professional videographer for your wedding…great idea!   Here are some great considerations and tips Doug Lewis, from Take One Productions has written out.  When you are thinking about having a video to memorialize your big day…take these ideas to heart!

Most couples don’t think they need a wedding film, They already have a photographer and their friends and family are taking pictures and video. They think a videographer is just another expense, that they’ll have a huge camera in their face and their guest’s faces. Or maybe they’ve sat through friend’s videos and winced at the bad music, long – winded speeches and never ending running time.


The art of videography or cinematography has experienced a revolution in the past few years. Long gone are the days of big cameras and boring videos. Today’s filmmakers are using the latest technology and story telling techniques to create stunning wedding films that allow the couple to re-live all the emotions, the actions, and the reactions of their wedding day forever. Many filmmakers shoot on cameras similar to a photographers camera, but are using it in a totally different fashion. There are also several new tools available to filmmakers to provide Hollywood style special effects. Some of these are stabilizers, (GlideCam, Movi, Ronin) Jibs, (which move the camera up and down for sweeping cinematic style shots) sliders, and drones for aerial shots. With all this Hollywood style effects available, the production quality of wedding films has increased exponentionally, however, the most important thing that couples can look for in a wedding filmmaker is “Do they connect on an emotional level?” “Can they tell the story of the day?” “Can they make you feel all the emotions a couple experiences on their wedding day?”All the special effects, drones, sliders, and Movi’s won’t make a difference if the story of the day isn’t told. Anyone can take video clips, set them to a music bed and make a montage, but it takes a true filmmaker to tell the story and re-create the emotions of the day. Nothing can compare to re-living the emotions and feelings of the most important day of your life.


So what should a couple look for in a filmmaker? First, as with any vendor, ask your friends who might have had a wedding film done for their wedding. Ask to see it. See if you can follow the story of the day.


Second, do your research, check various wedding websites, read reviews, watch samples online. As with photographers, there are many choices and many different styles. Each filmmaker will have a unique style and make sure it matches with what you want from a wedding film. Some Filmmakers are more classic with a slower paced wedding film other are quicker and more contemporary, some are even a little edgy. It all comes down to how the couple wants to re-live the memories of their wedding day.


Third: Ask Questions. Chances are a couple hasn’t shopped for a wedding filmmaker before. Here are some FAQ’s


  1. Can we see a full length film? (Most important!!! Every Filmmaker has a different style and most samples on websites are just quick eye candy pieces. Know what your filmmakers style is, just like a photographer. Pay attention to the audio, look at the color of the film and most importantly does it make an emotional connection with you?
  2. Do we get to pick our own music? (Big one here…Most filmmakers will welcome your input and find out what kind of music you like and use similar artists to create the mood and feel of your film, but be aware most filmmakers will use licensed music from online resources. Legally we cannot use that John Legend song without securing rights, which is very expensive)
  3. How long does it take to get our wedding film back? (This can be all over the board. Industry average is about 12-14 weeks. Check with your filmmaker about turn around time)
  4. Why is my wedding film only 15-20 minutes long when you are there for 8-10 hours on the wedding day?


Hollywood spends 9-12 months to film and prepare for a 1.5-2 hour feature length film. Imagine ALL that footage they whittle down to create a compelling story, that’s entertaining and convenient to watch. Wedding Filmmakers do the same thing! Only we only have 9 hours to make the magic happen. No second takes at a wedding. 🙂

  1. Do you offer Photography as well? We feel that photography and videography are equally important. Because of that, we just want to focus on what we do best, telling stories of wedding days with our video cameras. We let the photographers do what they do best, and work so well with them that you won’t even notice. We feel that the majority of studios that offer both services, or even DJ companies that offer videography, can’t really focus 100% on doing the best job they can for both services. We don’t want to water down your video or photo experience by trying to offer both.


When considering a wedding filmmaker, couples should budget the same about for a wedding film as they do for their wedding photographer. Average Rates in Jacksonville for a quality wedding filmmaker range from $2500 to $5000 Also, book your wedding film early as popular dates fill up quickly. In closing, there is some amazing work done by some amazing filmmakers, but do your homework and look for the filmmaker that fits your style. Remember, flowers and décor can transform a plain room into amazing scenery but it will only last one day, the cake will be eaten by the end of the night, the music stops playing and the venue will have another bride dancing her first dance tomorrow. A wedding film will make you laugh, cry and relive all the moments from your wedding day. You will be able to show your children and grandchildren what your wedding day was really like. Think about it and think about what that is worth to you?

– Doug Lews, Take One Productions




Mar 102015

Affordable Wedding Venues in Jacksonville & Surrounding Areas

Catering & Beverage, Reception Venues, Tips and Opinions Comments Off on Affordable Wedding Venues in Jacksonville & Surrounding Areas

How Not to Break the Bank…

If planning a wedding on the First Coast is a challenge, paying for it can be an even greater one. But don’t despair, here are some insider secrets to help you save money when c choosing  your reception site.

Time of Day

Many wedding venues in the Jacksonville area will  book receptions from noon to 5:00 p.m. or from 6:00 p.m. to midnight, and they may charge extra to host a reception that overlaps both time segments. To save money, choose one of these times. Better yet, choose the earlier time slot. Because evening functions tend to be easily booked, choosing the earlier time may give you negotiating power with the wedding venue, especially if their list price is the same for both time frames.

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The Day

Saturday’s are the most expensive day of week to have your wedding, no matter what time of the year it is.  If you really want a particular venue, but the Saturday rate is out of your wedding budget think about having a Friday or Sunday wedding.  Almost all wedding venues have reduced rates for those dates.  Or, if you can get married on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, you can typically get a GREAT deal on your wedding venue space.  Not only will you get a great deal on your wedding venue…but you will probably get a great deal with the rest of your wedding vendors as well!

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Time of Year

The date you choose for your wedding may significantly affect reception cost. Peak months are March, April, May, September, October and November. Saturday evenings in December are generally reserved for holiday parties. Most wedding venues will refuse to negotiate prices during these prime months, and many require a minimum budget be met in order to reserve the space. At other times of the year, however, venues are usually more than willing to haggle.  In the Jacksonville area, the slowest wedding months are during June, July and August…especially for the outdoor wedding venues.

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Menu Selection

There are many different types of menu options when deciding what to feed your guests;  buffet, hors d’oeuvres,  food stations or a sit down dinner.  Typically, the buffet is  the most economical choice. Though many new brides assume that a hors d’oeuvres cocktail party will be the least expensive option, often the exact opposite is true. To host a hors d’oeuvres party at mealtime, you should provide 14 to 16 hors d’oeuvres per person. When all of the items are tallied, the total per person cost can be equal to or higher than a plated or buffet meal. Buffet stations also will cut down on the labor cost because they need more servers/cooks for the other options.  Something else to consider is the time of the day the wedding is.  A breakfast meal or lunch menu will be less expensive (typically) then a dinner menu.

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The largest contributing factor to your overall reception budget is the type of bar you host. Generally, if you are considering hosting a bar for your guests for the full reception (four to five hours), the price can equal or even exceed the meal cost. Many times the venue  will offer an “open bar” package price. These prices are based on a fixed per person cost per hour regardless of the amount consumed. The advantage of the open bar is having a fixed cost to factor into your budget.  If you select a venue that allows you to bring in your own catering a bar service, make sure you ask a lot of questions of what it includes; glassware, dinnerware, linens, servers, etc.

Another way to cut some costs on the bar is only offer beer and wine and possibly a signature drink.

If you need to save money on your open bar, close the bar during dinner, and reopen after the meal. This way you will have bar coverage when it’s needed most.

Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Orange Park, Amelia Island or Southern Georgia the surrounding areas have hundreds of wedding reception options that can fit any budget and price point!  Just make sure that the venue you select is a reputable location that is properly licensed and insured!

To find a complete list of great wedding reception locations please check out our reception guide!

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