Category Archive: Advice

  1. New Wedding Trend: Recycled Weddings Making a Difference

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     Making a Difference instead of Making a Splash

    Planning a wedding is a serious task – there’s so much to consider in order to reflect the two of you, how to entertain your family and friends, and sometimes as we know “the devil is in the details”. In the process of planning it is possible to lose sight of what is important in the middle of all the tulle, lace, invitations, favors, and photo booths. Ultimately, the point of a wedding is the marriage – how you two will live your lives together. A recent trend has couples making a difference, opting to spend or donate their wedding budget on a cause or charity close to their hearts. If you want to give back and extend your celebration to the wider community, consider looking into some of these different options.

    Photo courtesy of Black Sheep Bride, Meigan Canfield Photography


    Photo courtesy of Black Sheep Bride, Meigan Canfield Photography

    Pinterest can be a helpful tool but it can also lead to a serious case of “wedding envy” and spur competition to make each wedding more opulent and fantastic than the last. Instead of the hottest wedding trend, try researching your church, community center, or a cause close to your heart to find a way you can contribute. Gather your wedding party to work for a weekend on a Habitat for Humanity project or spend a few hours serving meals at a homeless shelter.

    Ismini & Mark Svensson traveling around the US, performing 50 Acts of Kindness. Photo credit: CNN, Svensson family

    Check out vendors – from wedding dresses to venues to photography – who give back to charities on  Black Sheep Bride to find one that fits you. You can find someone in nearly every vendor category that will support a cause that’s special to you, making even your wedding expenditures count.

    • Are you environmentally conscious and looking for a stunning but Eco-friendly gown? Check out Pure Magnolia gowns and Restitch Studio, both Black Sheep Bride vendors specializing in making you gorgeous for your day while reusing already existent or sustainable materials.
    • Looking for a photographer who gives back? Check out Sandrachile Photography in Pittsburgh – she donates to Too Young To Wed, an organization that combats forced child marriage as well as Rabbit Wranglers, which rescues neglected and abused rabbits.
    • A major wedding budget item is food, and quite often there are lots of leftovers from weddings. In Pittsburgh, consider donating leftover wedding reception meals to 412FoodRescue, an organization that collects good food that would otherwise be discarded and distributes it to community organizations in need.
    • Flowers are a considerably large chunk of a wedding budget, and are often completely neglected after the few hours they are used to grace the reception tables or other parts of the venue. In Pittsburgh, why not give those flowers a second chance to bring a smile to faces by donating them through an organization such as Centerpieces 4 Seniors to a Senior retirement home, where they will be enjoyed for days. Started by Kelli Burns and Rose Davidson, these ladies collaborated by asking brides and venues to donate floral arrangements to the organization, which delivers them to senior care homes. They will pick up arrangements after any event, and often brides who choose Kelli Burns Entertainment for their DJ services will opt to donate their floral arrangements after seeing how much Kelli and Rose care for their service to Centerpieces 4 Seniors.

    Kelli Burns and Rose Davidson delivering flowers through Centerpieces 4 Seniors.

    Recycled Weddings recently got national coverage in an article in The New York Times, highlighting four couples who chose to donate their time, money, and host their special day in a non-traditional but meaningful way. One couple chose an LGBT community center integral to their relationship for their venue, another was married at a homeless outreach shelter where they serve meals. An Indian couple traded the traditional Indian wedding for a simple ceremony at City Hall and dinner with family and friends, instead donating $20,000 to a charity that feeds children victims of Boko Haram violence and encouraged their guests to donate too. For every “big wedding” aspect they celebrated, a final couple involved their wedding party and families in packing brown-bag lunches for homeless shelters and other outreach.
    How can your wedding make a difference?

  2. Choosing Your Perfect Honeymoon

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    Mountains in Bora BoraThere are plenty of details to consider when planning your wedding day. After months of preparation, the big day will go by in the blink of an eye. And then it’s time to relax and enjoy a week or two of newlywed bliss. So how do you decide where to go?

    First, discuss time and budget with your significant other. Before you choose a location, consider how much time you will be able to take off of work and how big your travel budget is. From exotic, far off locations to a cozy trip across the country, here are options that will fit every lifestyle:


    With soft sand and all-inclusive resorts, beach honeymoons provide an escape from the world into your own private paradise. For the couple looking to unwind and enjoy some time alone, a tropical resort is the perfect option.

    Henry and Lisa in Bora BoraWhen choosing a beach destination, consider weather. We recommend avoiding a trip during hurricane season, or choosing a warm, sandy location outside of the hurricane belt. One hot honeymoon destination is Bora Bora. A coral island in the French Polynesia, Bora Bora is an exquisite, volcanic island surrounded by coral reefs. A well-known tourist destination, there are plenty of adventures for you and your spouse to encounter – think snorkeling, swimming and quad touring the mountains – as well as time to relax and enjoy each other’s company and the crystal clear waters.  Newlyweds Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux spent their honeymoon here – and so did our celebrity clients, Lisa and Henry Swager!


    Are you and your spouse looking to kick off your marriage with the adventure of a lifetime? From mountains to rivers to ancient runes there are many ways to satisfy your desire to explore. Look into national parks and eco-lodges and plan a guided tour for one of the first days of your trip. Your local tour guide is sure to have better information than any site on the internet, so ask plenty of questions and learn about all that the area has to offer. Then spend the rest of your trip visiting and exploring the spots mentioned.

    For couples looking for a trip a bit closer to home, a trip out west to Yellowstone National State Park and the Grand Canyon is a great idea. Another adventurous – and tropical – destination choice is Costa Rica. Spend an afternoon zip-lining through the jungle or kayaking a river, then relax on the beach in the evening.


    If you love the rush of city life and the feeling of being on the go, a city honeymoon is the trip for you. From outdoor markets to museums and a bustling nightlife, there are plenty of cities both near and far that will give you the chance to learn and explore together. Immerse yourself in local culture with reservations at a popular restaurant, a tour around the city and tickets to a local theatre.

    While Paris has always been the city of love, there are many other options to consider. Barcelona, Spain is one of our favorite choices. Looking for some other ideas? Visit The Knot to see their list of most romantic honeymoon cities.

    Bora Huts

    No matter what trip you choose, your honeymoon will provide you with memories that will last a lifetime. Take some time to relax after all the stress of the big day and enjoy the company of your new spouse.

  3. How Long Should your Wedding Reception Last?


    Wedding Reception SignA couple of the questions I frequently hear couples puzzling over are “How long should the music last?” and “How many hours should the reception be?” There are plenty of traditions incorporated into most wedding receptions and based on the number of guests, dinner courses and your open bar package, the length of time you spend at the reception can vary. Here is a little more information on events commonly included in the reception:

    Receiving Line

    Depending on the location of your wedding ceremony and reception, the receiving line is almost always at the ceremony location. For couples who plan to take pictures after their vows, your guests will probably beat you to the reception. In this case, I recommend having the receiving line right after the ceremony.

    Cocktail Hour

    Kick off the reception and give yourself time to get to the wedding after your photos and enjoy your guests at the cocktail hour. Greet your guests and give them time to mingle while the event staff serves hors d’oeuvres.

    First Dance

    Once the DJ announces your parents, your wedding party and, of course, your grand entrance, head to the dance floor! This is a beautiful moment to celebrate the beginning of a memorable evening with family and friends.

    Champagne Toast & Speeches

    When everyone is seated and the first course has been served, the best man will give the champagne toast, with a response from the groom. Then it’s the maid of honor’s turn, sometimes followed by your parents and other guests.


    Depending on if you have a buffet meal or sit-down style, dinner will progress differently. The dinner typically will take one hour. Once dinner is over, the dance floor will open up for the celebrations to continue!

    Other Traditions

    There are many other traditions that may be incorporated into your wedding, including the parents’ dances, the longevity dance and the throwing of the garter and bouquet. Many families also choose to include customs that celebrate their ethnicity, like the Hora, a Jewish wedding dance, and the kalamatiano, a Greek one.

    Talk to your significant other about wedding traditions that their family follows and be sure to include some that incorporate both sides of your new family!

    As a quick rule of thumb, I recommend a reception with four hours of music for up to 75 guest and five hours for 150 guests. For a wedding with 200 guests or more and multiple courses, six hours may be needed.  While four or five hours do not sound like a long time, remember what a big day it has been. If the event goes too long, it will seem to drag on. End your big night on a high note! From early hair appointments, to the wedding, photos and more, you’ve been busy. Enjoy the celebrations – they will fly by!