Category Archives: Wedding Ideas

Wedding Tips, Tricks, & Vendors – Interview with Amy Nixon Events

This week has been a bit of a doozy.  I have been sick all week.  (Yuck!)  But, I am thrilled to be back on my feet and sharing this wonderful interview with wedding planner Amy Nixon.  She shares some great wedding tips.

Thanks so much for agreeing to an interview, Amy. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I was born and raised in Dallas, Texas and moved to Ohio in 2005. My hobbies are reading, cooking and baking and watching reality TV shows! I started my business in 2006, left “Corporate America” in 2007, and have been growing my business ever since. I’m a member of Working Women Connection, a women in business networking group in the area, and I love networking of any kind. I am happily married with two teenage step-children and I live in Avon Lake where I have a studio in my home. In November 2010 we opened our second studio in Vermilion.

Wow!  A second studio.  That’s exciting!  How did you become a wedding planner?

One of my first jobs in high school was working with flowers, making things like corsages and homecoming mums. That job was what began my love of creating, and led eventually to my love of creating weddings. After working in flowers for several years, and then learning about photography from my mother (who had her own photography business), I wanted to start a business of my own combining all my experiences. When I moved to Ohio, the opportunity to start a business presented itself, so I took advantage. I started with planning and day-of coordination only and soon incorporated floral designs and décor rentals as well.

What is your favorite part?

My favorite part is the feeling of gratification when you pull off an amazing event. When the bride tells you that everything is gorgeous, and the guests ooh-and-aah at the décor all night, and all of the hard work you put in has paid off.

O.K.  I’m going to jump right in with a hard one.  Many people assume hiring a wedding planner adds a huge expense to their wedding budget.  How would you reply?

Complete myth! A good wedding planner will be able to save their client money in the long run, in addition to saving them time by doing all the planning research and legwork. We work with you to form a budget and stick to it, and we pass on any vendor discounts we receive directly to the client; for example, $50 in savings on your cake, $100 in savings on your DJ, $500 on flowers… that already covers the cost of our partial planning package, and we haven’t even gotten into photography, videography, attire, invitations, transportation, décor, favors, hair, makeup, accommodations, etc… In short, a good planner will help you make educated choices along the planning path, which will help you save money and avoid any over-spending.

Great points Amy.  Can you share a few of your favorite wedding details from last year?

We did a large wedding in June at Lyman Harbor that was tropical themed and fun! Palm trees, huge tropical flower centerpieces, and even a grooms cake in the form of a Hawaiian shirt. We did a small wedding in August that incorporated some Japanese themed décor items such as bonsai trees, lanterns, cherry blossom fans and favors in Chinese take-home boxes (the couple was honeymooning in Japan). Another one of our August weddings was a rustic nature theme, where we did small tree trunks as vases and used all baby’s breath in the arrangements and bouquets. We also did a super fun Halloween themed wedding with a Buddhist ceremony at House of Blues. At the reception there was a huge Halloween candy station and a photo booth with Halloween costumes to play in. Deep red and orange calla bouquets, pumpkin centerpieces, deep red rose petals… (We kept it tasteful, not kitchy!) I also included a photo of my favorite bouquet from last year, made with all yellow flowers and grey ribbon.

Here are some images Amy sent over.  Gorgeous stuff.

blue napkins and white linens cover tables at this wedding reception

creative wedding decor is shown on table at reception

baby's breath wreath from wedding in akron

beautiful wedding cake with hawaiian shirt groom's cake

beautiful yellow bridal bouquet sitting with other wedding details

You are a florist as well, right?  How does that help your brides when you are planning?

Yes, we do event design which includes floral design (along with linens, lighting, and other design details that make weddings beautiful!). My background is in floral design, so most of my brides like that fact and add on our flowers to their planning or coordination package. We have a great portfolio of previous work, we can do modern or traditional, and we can almost always quote a lower price than other florists in the area because we don’t have the same overhead costs that they do (for example, we don’t keep a shop full of flowers… we only order what we need for our events.)

What is the best advice you can give for any bride trying to plan her wedding?

Before you do anything else, set a budget. Weddings are expensive any way you look at it, and if you don’t control your spending you’ll quickly find yourself in a bad place. You need to realistically evaluate your finances and contributions from others to come up with your budget. Then, allocate certain amounts from the budget to each vendor. Don’t over-spend. If you have trouble setting a budget, contact a planner or coordinator. Some (including us) offer hourly consultations and can help you establish a budget and get you on your way to smart spending.

What trends to you see coming up for 2011 and 2012 weddings?

Yellow and Navy are popular this year, as well as shiny metallic colors. Uplighting and pin spotlighting are décor elements that we’re getting more and more requests for these days, and we’ve learned so many creative new ways to use lighting in our décor designs. Interactive stations for the guests are popular as well; candy and dessert stations as favors, decadent coffee and tea stations with fancy condiments, a fill your own tossing cone station with petals and herbs….no matter what type, brides are loving that it gives their guests an entertaining activity while at the same time acting as a décor element.

When planning a wedding, where do you look for ideas?  What keeps the creativity flowing?

I’m a big blogger! I follow tons of blogs, everything from cocktails and baking to designing and weddings, and they always inspire great ideas! I also like to look to the engaged couple for ideas. I like to incorporate personal touches, so details about the couple can inspire great ideas; for example, a bride from Ohio and a groom from the Jersey shore inspired a hotel welcome basket with salt water taffy and buckeyes. We also attend educational seminars and expos throughout the year to learn about what’s new in the event industry from other seasoned professionals. David Tutera from My Fair Wedding, Linnyette Richardson-Hall from Whose Wedding Is It Anyway?, Michael Cerbelli from Total Entertainment, and David Merrell from Design Dawgs are a few of the pros that educated and inspired us during 2010!

Do you have any funny stories from your experience as a planner?

I guess the funniest thing I can think of right off the bat would be a photographer falling asleep at the table during dinner. I sat with the photographer and my staff at the vendors table for dinner, and the lights were dimmed to run a slide show of the bride & groom. While we were eating, the photographer across from me began nodding off (literally nodding, head bobbing all around). My assistants were trying to hold it together and not laugh! We let him nap for about 10 minutes while we finished dinner, then I purposely bumped into the table while standing up and it jolted him awake. He just yawned, picked up his camera and headed over to take photos of the cake cutting like nothing had happened.

Oh my!  I have to say, I’ve never fallen asleep during a reception!

What should a bride do if she is considering your services?

If a bride is interested in hiring a wedding planner or day-of coordinator, we offer a complimentary consultation for them. They can call or email us anytime to schedule a consultation. We can answer any questions from the couple, explain our packages and pricing, and we can recommend the best package for their needs and budget. We can also help with design ideas from our linen swatches, wedding magazines, and sample items in our studios.

Last but possibly most important of all, what is your favorite candy?

Chocolate! But in particular, the extremely elusive Chocolate Pay Day candy bar. (They’re very hard to find, and I think they only come out at certain times of the year). I stock up when I find them.

And just when I thought I had tried every candy.  Now, I’ll have to add one to my list.


Wedding Tips, Tricks, & Vendors-Interview with Pastore Studio

I recently hired Maria of Pastore Studio to help me with my logo design.  I knew what I wanted but need a designer eye to “fix” it up a bit.  Not only is she a branding genius, she also designs custom wedding invitations.  I knew all of you brides might love to see her work as much as I did.

Thanks for agreeing to an interview Maria!  Tell us a little about yourself.

• I am beginning to regret how little I read books.

• I am slightly neurotic when it comes to being organized and making lists, including lists that direct me to make a list about something else.

• I have never dyed my hair, unless you count a Sun-In incident in 1996.

• My favorite wines are Pinot Noir, Malbec and Chianti.

• If the setup in a room is odd, I start to rearrange the furniture in my head. I have successfully convinced people that another arrangement would be more functional.

• I prefer small groups and close conversation to large groups and parties.

• I have really become obsessed with making plans to travel to places I’ve never been.

• Love social media, but personal correspondence is still vital for fostering relationships.

• I have finally learned to drink coffee black.

• Designing for others is what I enjoy. Designing for myself is impossible because I cannot commit to fonts, colors and style which I think is due to not wanting my work or presentation style to be categorized.

• Clutter makes me nervous.

I may need to have you over to rearrange my house!  I am definitely open to suggestions.  So, how did you get into the invitation business?

You know, the truth is that I feel as though I’ve been in the business my entire life or at least trying to be in it since I was very young. I have been designing for myself and others all along, I just now do it professionally. To nurture my craft and love of design, I chose to go to one of the best design schools in the country – Kent State University School of Visual Communication Design and earned my Bachelor of Fine Arts. This really helped me find my style and voice as a designer, something that is still being developed each day with each new project. I have had clients reach out to me because they appreciate the aesthetic of my work and moments like that that keep me here and motivated.

Post-grad, I worked in Manhattan as a junior designer at a design firm for a little over a year and then found my way back to Northeast Ohio designing at an advertising agency for about five years. While I had been freelancing all the while, designing invitations, etc., I decided to go full-time with my studio a little over a year ago and made it official in April 2010. Big decision to make, especially in today’s economy. I knew it would be a risk, but one that I had to take. I’ve always done what I love to do at all of my design jobs, but now I am doing it on my own terms, which is important to me. As a visual branding and invitation/stationery designer I chose to offer both as services of Pastore Studio.

I am glad you did!

(Maria not only helped me with my own logo, but check out a couple of the other brands she’s designed.)

What were some of your favorite projects from the last year?

I really enjoyed working on everything this past year. One of my favorite projects was being able to design the invitation suite for William and Dolores Brown who had their wedding vow renewal wish granted by Wish Upon a Wedding, Cleveland. It is always wonderful when you can give your time in support of a wonderful couple and a great cause.

(Below are some examples that Maria sent over.  Just gorgeous.)

What is something few people realize about invitation design?

The invitation makes the loudest statement about your upcoming wedding or event. It is definitely something that should be just as important as elements of the event itself (flowers, cake, accessories, lighting). Starting with setting the tone of your event with your invitation design, following suit with all parts of the day itself and wrapping things up with a thank you card. All elements should feel as they they are part of one branded package.

What is the process of invitation design like?  Could you give us the basic steps starting with meeting with the bride and groom?

We’ll email ideas or inspiration or meet in person to discuss specifics. The design process begins afterwards. Usually, I will focus on the main ceremony card and present a couple different options. The client will choose their favorite design direction and the process evolves from there for the remaining items. It’s always different and tailored to the needs of each client.

How long from start to finish should a couple allow?

This will vary and depends on many variables. Ideally, it’s best to reach out and start the process anywhere from 10-6 months prior to the event. Or if you’re interested in sending out a save the date as well, I would recommend 12 months before the event.

Invitations should be mailed 12-10 weeks before a destination wedding, 10-8 weeks before a local affair with some out of town guests and 8-6 weeks before an event that mostly includes local guests.

For details on process/timing – please go to the following page of the Pastore Studio website:

(Here are some examples of Pastore Studio custom designs.)

If a bride has no idea what she’d like for her invites, is there a resource you can suggest to help her gather ideas?

Absolutely. There are countless wedding design and planning blogs out there that serve as great resources to brides. To name a few, some of my favorites are: 100 Layer Cake, Style Me Pretty and The Knot. You can also go to your local bookstore and browse the wedding and design magazines for inspiration. Additionally, sometimes inspiration comes from the least likely of places. Maybe you’ll see a pattern you like or a color scheme that catches your eye while shopping for bedding or dinnerware. Or maybe there is a nice detailed edge on your wedding dress that you really want to incorporate. Or you might see a color pop from a flower in your garden. Inspiration is everywhere, you just have to be open to seeing it.

What new trends do you see in the invitation business for 2011?

Less is more. Coral/peach is fresh for Spring and Fall – feel like it’s a better alternative to pink. Pockets and pouches seem fussy. Stripes are still around. Paper that feels good versus flat and smooth. A knot versus a bow. However, the biggest trend is always representing yourself in the best way possible.

What inspires you?

When designing for a couple (or any client) – they inspire me. Before I get involved in designing, I truly begin to understand them as a team, what they like and what they don’t like, what they’re inspired by and that inspires me to create something truly unique for them. There’s always this fear of will I run out of design solutions but I’ve learned that when I focus on who the work is being created for, the possibilities are endless.

Additionally, I am inspired by various designers, typographers, illustrators, those who keep it real and fresh – too many to list. The cuts and patterns of clothing/fashion always inspires me. I am very inspired by the Art Deco and Mid-Century Modern styles. Architectural elements play a role. I follow the lines and shapes of almost everything. I’m inspired by persistence and the desire to achieve and be successful. Of course each person’s definition of success is different. I am inspired by my husband’s ability to always make laugh, even when I am trying to be serious – sometimes it is just what I need to keep going.

I love what you said there, “when I focus on who the work is being created for, the possibilities are endless.”  I feel the same way about photographing weddings.  And for my final (and most vital) question…what’s your favorite kind of candy?

• Favorite candy with chocolate: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, original is best, but still thoroughly enjoy the Trees and Eggs as well as the Minis.

• Favorite candy without chocolate: a tie between Sweetarts and Chewy Sprees

Thanks so much Maria for telling us about yourself and Pastore Studio.

Head over and check out her site to see more awesome work that she’s done.

Ten Wedding Photography Tips

I have been shooting weddings for over five years and I have learned a few things along the way.  Now, first I need to explain that this list assumes that wedding photography is a priority to you (or else why would you be reading a post on wedding photography tips, right?)  Of course, everyone has different tastes and desires, but if I were planning my own wedding again I would follow every single one of these.

1. Hire a professional photographer you fully trust {and then trust him or her}

I know I sound biased because I am a professional photographer but I have seen too many people get burned.  This could be a post of it’s own but I’ll try to be brief.

True professionals will have

  • gorgeous examples to show
  • in almost all cases a professional website
  • a least some experience
  • a contract
  • literature (such as brochures, postcards, flyers, etc.)

Look around.  A lot.  There are many variations in style.  Contact a few that you like and see if their personality meshes with yours.  You will be spending a lot of time with the photographer.  Make sure you like being around him or her.

Compare quality.  This can be done by viewing website galleries.  Some people who are offering wedding photography services (even with businesses and websites) don’t know anything about lighting and exposure.  Your photographs will suffer if the lighting is poor and the exposure is off.  Look closely at the images.  Are the photographer’s images consistently done well?

When you find the photographer of your dreams…hire them.  Then, leave it in their hands.  Ask them for advice.  They have been doing this a long time.  If you trust their work, then trust them to handle your day as well.

2. Make sure your wedding package includes a second shooter

I include a second shooter in every package I offer.  Your photographer may not include one in their standard packages but it is almost always an option.

A second photographer ensures a few things.  First, there are many parts of the day that happen at the same time and obviously your photographer can only be in one place at a time.

  • When the bride is getting dressed, a second shooter can capture the guys fixing their ties.
  • After the bride and her father start down the aisle, a second shooter can capture them from behind and get a great shot of the dress.
  • During the reception, a second shooter can capture candids of grandma dancing while the photographer is shooting your new hubby talking to his buddies.

3. Book an engagement session

Today, this is included in many photographer’s wedding packages.  Take advantage of it!  If for no other reason, use it as a day to get to know your photographer.  I learn a TON about my couple during the engagement session.

  • What do they like/dislike?
  • What helps them relax?
  • What feature does she hate that we can hide in careful posing?
  • What makes them laugh?

By knowing the couple in advance, when the wedding day arrives, we are way ahead and can jump right in.

4. See each other first {a first glance or first look}

I wrote more about seeing each other before the ceremony here.  When I got married, I didn’t see my husband ahead of time.  If I had to do it again though…I would.  It is one of the most intimate times of the day and many brides and grooms have told me their favorite.  It allows for the day to run more smoothly and results in AWESOME photographs.  See the end of this post for an example of a first glance from a few months back.

{That said, many of my couples still choose not to see each other first.  If that’s your decision, I won’t bug ya.  Promise.}

5. Schedule plenty of time for wedding formals

This is one of the most important points {second to hiring a pro.}  The more time you allow for your photographs, the more your photographer can get creative, help you to relax, and get some great shots.  The best albums I’ve created came from brides and grooms that allowed a good amount of time for photographs.

Some things to remember.

  • Most couples want the following captured: family formals, bridal party shots at the church, bridal party shots at another location, creative shots with just the couple, the reception hall before guests arrive, and more.  If you are not seeing each other before the ceremony, all of this must take place between the ceremony end and the reception beginning.  Most often, one hour is not enough time to capture all of these well.
  • The last thing you want on your wedding day is to feel stressed.  More often than not, when a couple tries to squeeze all the photographs into a small amount of time, stress follows.
  • If you have a receiving line, add at least 30 minutes into the time needed.  Most take at least this.
  • Let your bridal party know in advance what the plan is.  Some party members may have never been in a wedding before and may not realize that you would like them to go somewhere after the ceremony.

6. Select portrait locations that mean something

I love portraits in the park but that’s not the only option.  If there is a special place nearby…consider using it instead.  Was your first kiss in front of your high school?  We could shoot there.  Do you have a favorite local hang out?  See if the owners would mind a 20-30 minute session the day of your wedding.

Just don’t be afraid to do something different.  There are cool backdrops almost everywhere.

7. Plan for the weather

Most of my weddings take place in Northeast Ohio.  I wish I could promise you blue skies and sunshine but unfortunately for all of us we could have a blizzard in May.  Make sure you have a backup location in mind.  There are many indoor locations that you can use but almost all require advance notice and some have a fee.

Believe me when I say this is a small price for not having to worry or scrambling to find umbrellas.

8. Hire a good wedding coordinator {or a day of coordinator at a minimum}

Trust me on this one.  A good planner can actually save you money.  And they can be your most valuable asset the day of.  A good planner will have everything running so smoothly you don’t have to even think about timing or photos.  Your only job will be looking good.

9. Relax

Speaking of looking good, a bride always looks best without the deer-in-the-headlights-look.  Take a deep breath.  Laugh.  Do whatever it takes to feel beautiful.  You’ve hired a trusted photographer, right?  Trust him or her and own that pose.

10. Plan time for just you as a couple {creative time}

I always recommend at least 20 minutes of alone time with your photographer.  If you are seeing each other in advance this can be before the ceremony.  If not, tell the bridal party to head over to the reception venue a bit early and wait for you there.  This gives your photographer time to capture you in a cool location without 10 pairs of eyes staring.  It’s hard to look cool when your bridal party is cracking jokes.  Trust me.

THe first look or first glance where a bride and groom choose to see each other before they are married

Take a look at a recent “first glance” when the bride and groom first see each other…before the craziness of the day begins.


Have you been here yet?

If not, I’m not sure why.  I think I’d move in if I could.

Did you see our first blog about Gervasi here?  I have returned a few times to capture most of what makes Gervasi tick.  I’ve said it before but really, this place is gorgeous.  Just look and see…

Every Wednesday through October 20, Gervasi holds a Farmer’s Market.  Below are some of the yummy finds.

And inside the Marketplace

Making wine…

Inside the Bistro…

Trust me when I say this is the tip of the iceberg.  Make a reservation by calling 330.497.1000.