Category Archives: Insider Tips

Insider Tips | Etiquette Basics

Insider Tips | Etiquette Basics

A big part of your wedding is the etiquette that goes along with many aspects of the process. From your Save The Dates, to invitations, to thank you cards, it’s important to know how to be formal and proper when sending out vital information that will resonate with your guests. Your wedding is an event they are attending, and just as you would expect from any other event, requires a certain level of consideration for the individual you are inviting. It may be your big day, but each person attending is also investing a large amount of time, money, and emotional value in your wedding.

Invitation Set

A big etiquette factor to maintain while coordinating your big day is all about wording. You have selected each guests to invite based on a connection you have with them. You want to share this huge, romantic moment in your lives as you embark on a new life together with your true love. Consider the envelope just as important as what goes in it.

If you are inviting an entire family, you can say The Andersons to include everyone in the household. If you are inviting a couple, you may need to poke around and do some research on how they should be addressed. Are they married? Do they share a last name? Are you inviting roommate that have no romantic correlation? What is their profession: are they a doctor or lawyer? The contents of the envelope should reflect the same titles.

Invitation Envelopes

Now, save that list, because you’ll need it again for thank you cards. You should send thank you cards within two weeks of receiving gifts prior to the wedding day. Any gifts given the day of buy you three months to get the thank you cards out. Review your list but also make sure nothing has changed. Perhaps two people who originally were invited together have since split up, and you definitely do not want to make the faux pas of ignoring this after they invested time and money for your nuptials.


The basis of etiquette start by acknowledging each guest you are inviting individually and respecting their prestige and family. Maintaining this etiquette will not only show you off to be the amazing host and planner you are, but show your guests they are as important to you are you are to them, and everyone will enjoy your wedding day.Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 1.29.24 PM

Insider Tips | What To Expect From Your Wedding Planner

Insider Tips | What To Expect From Your Wedding Planner

You may be wondering why you need a wedding planner, or have already signed on the dotted line and are now wondering what to expect. A wedding planner is so much more than what the name entails, we are a confidant, a third party perspective, a mediant, a decorator, a DIY expert, a financial guru, and a spiritual guide for one of the biggest days of your life. Cue the “OM” chant and yoga mats. We wear many hats and fit many roles. We love what we do and invest a lot of time networking on your behalf to know as many people as possible in the wedding industry so you get the best of the best. So, what should you expect from your new planning partner?

10/24/14 Wedding of Kristen Zosel and James Wilburn at Forsyth Park in Savannah, Georgia. Reception at The Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa. Photos by Renee Ittner McManus/RIM Photography

Create the Framework

In your initial consultation and meetings with your wedding planner, the foundation to support the entire planning process will be created. This means the budget, the priority list, the theme, and general understanding of events (rehearsal dinner, etc). Planning a wedding has many moving parts which your planner will be able to bring to your attention and lay out in a manageable way. They will also great a timeline from consultation to the wedding day to keep track of milestones. A wedding planner keeps an attentive eye and will keep in frequent contact to remind you if you need to start looking at caterers, book certain vendors, or lock in a florist. This serves as major piece of mind to any stressed out bride.

Wedding Invitations


Handle the Vendors

In a bride’s day dream, contracts typically don’t fall into the fluffy cloud. Your wedding planner tackles the logistics of vendors, receipts, and budgeting. A major planner perk also includes the wide network of vendors for the most honest recommendations. No need to spend hours Googling reviews or being scammed by someone you found online. A planner will facilitate the booking of trusted, tried and true vendors to make sure everything goes smoothly for your big day, and the contract will reflect any fine print or clauses necessary. Your planner will also greet and coordinate these vendors on your wedding day so you can sip champagne with your bridal party and get primped and pampered.

bridesmaids and bride

Keep Everything Running Smoothly

A wedding planner’s arsenal of back up plans, emergency items, and day of coordination is no joke. Your planner will pull together final details, guide the decor and floral arrangements to suit the theme you have discussed, and leave no place setting anything less than perfection. They’ll accept deliveries and direct the flow of incoming arrivals so by the time your guests arrive, everything will be where it should be.

Bride & Groom Kiss

While there are many decisions and responsibilities that settle on the bride during wedding planning, your wedding planner acts as the structure, the calendar, the guidance, and the neutral voice to keep the entire process running smoothly and the big day as enjoyable for you as possible. After all, your wedding day should be stress-free and magical, let your wedding planner orchestrate your dream and you just float down the aisle.

Photos: Wedding of Kristen Zosel and James Wilburn at Forsyth Park in Savannah, Georgia. Reception at The Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa. Photos by Renee Ittner McManus/RIM Photography
I Said Yes! What To Expect Now That You Have The Ring

I Said Yes! What To Expect Now That You Have The Ring

“I said yes!”.. Now what? After the big proposal and excitement, you could now be facing stress and uncertainty about where to go to start planning your wedding. Our first tip, don’t forget to breathe! This is such a common question you may be asking yourself or other people once you get the ring on your finger, “What do I do first?” You may have been dreaming of your big day for years or have a fresh vision on what you expect. We have some tips on what to expect now that you’re engaged!

Engagement Ring

Your family will have questions

Your instinct is to post your gorgeous rock (with a perfect manicure) on social media and call your family to tell them about the big news. Our tip: savor the moment! Once you let everyone in on your engagement, your family will have a slew of questions you may not be prepared to answer yet! First, you’ll be asked when the wedding date is, what venues you’re looking at, how can they be involved, and so many more. You may still be surprised from the engagement it will pull your excitement away when so many topics come your way. The best way to handle it is to expect the questions and give yourself some time to enjoy the moment with your fiance before diving into planning.

Wedding Invitation
Friends may pop out of the woodwork

Everyone loves a wedding. Your guest list is the first budget buster we tackle when looking at the financial aspect of planning. Especially with social media, everyone wants an invite, and make it public they expect one. Your friends from college, high school, yoga class, and acquaintances may chime in their excitement and eagerness to attend. Be mindful of how you spread the word so you don’t go over budget for guests who may not be as invested in your relationship as family and close friends.

You have a lot to plan.. but that’s okay!

We’re going to be honest here. Planning a wedding is a lot of work! Our tip: hire a wedding planner right away! Not only will doing so alleviate the stress of planning but it will allow you to enjoy that engaged moment more. We’ll handle the tough stuff. We’ll talk budget, timeline, and arrange appointments with vendors. You can purge your creative vision without worrying about spending hours searching for the right details. Having a planner provides a foundation of insider knowledge on the industry and a network of wedding professionals so you know you will have only the best on your big day. We make the planning fun!

Avila Dawn Events Bride and Groom

Insider Tips | Emergency Kit Assembly

Your bridesmaid’s dress strap broke, your hair is starting to fall out from its’ updo, and if someone else tells you to calm down you’re going to lose it! With so many details going into your big day, the smallest fixes are bound to happen. Never Fear… Your emergency kit is here! Every bride should have an emergency kit on hand or in the safety of their maid of honor for quick solutions to common emergencies. Admitting things may go wrong is the first step! Now, put together your kit so you can rest easy no matter what happens, you’ll have the answer.

The Essentials

Many of these kits are available for purchase, but sometimes have more or less items than we actually need! We love a couple versions available through David’s Bridal or Etsy. We assembled our own with a tried and true list of must-have wedding day lifesavers. Many of these items can be purchased online or at your local craft store! Grab a small zip bag or transform your maid of honor’s clutch into your personal convenience store with this list!

Breath Mints – For those mid-day snack or post cocktail moments. You will be talking to so many people at your wedding and enjoying your amazing catering, the last thing you need is lingering bad breath when chatting with your guests. Wedding Emergency Kit Essentials

Lipstick – Touch ups are inevitable! If you hired a makeup artist ask for a sample of the lipstick they used, or ask at your trial if they can have the lipstick in a full size to purchase.

Tissues – Waterworks are just a right of passage into marriage. Having tissues on hand during your vows and first dance can save your make up!

Mini Hairspray & Bobby Pins – Just like your lipstick, touch ups are inevitable. Tame flyaway pieces of hair as you dance the night away or get wind blown during an outdoor ceremony. Catch a falling updo with bobby pins.

Stain Remover – You just dropped sauce on your white dress. No need to panic! Grab your stain remover pen and pray! These pens are proven to get out some of the toughest stains on the spot so no one has to know!

Nail File – Uh oh, broke a nail? Fix it in a snap with a mini nail file tucked into your emergency kit.

Fashion Tape & A Safety Pin – Fashion faux pas no more! A broke strap or sinking neckline has a quick fix with these seamstress replacements.

Aspirin – The worst thing we hear is a bride having a headache on this joyful day. Keep a travel size bottle of aspirin or headache relief of your choosing in case your mother-in-law gets on your last nerve.

Blotting Tissue – Different from regular tissue, these little rectangles are a lifesaver if yoBlotting Tissue in emergency kitu suffer from high shine in humidity or stress. Designed to keep your makeup intact, these blotting sheets absorb excess oil and leave your face flawless!

Perfume Mini – With stress can come stink, keeping a mini perfume bottle can freshen up and keep you smelling great and feeling confident throughout the entire day and night. We like keeping perfume on hand because it can also double as a deodorant (just in case!).

Wedding Bands – This may seem a bit silly, but it can really save a ceremony if the wedding bands are misplaced. Having a spare set of bands to pull out when the ring bearer thought it would be cute to hide the originals will keep your timeline on track and buy time to look for real ones!

All Smiles Thanks to Having an Emergency Kit!

PS – If you have a wedding planner, she will probably provide your wedding party with an emergency kit to combat an mishaps that may occur.

Insider Tips | Escort Card vs. Place Card: What’s the Difference?

Today we are discussing escort cards vs. place cards, what’s the difference? Although they may seem like the same thing, they’re not and serve two totally different purposes! Let’s begin.

Escort Cards – Anything that states a person’s name and is used to direct that person to their table (easy way to remember this – escort cards escort you to your table)!

Escort Card Display, SC Wedding Planner, Columbia SC Wedding Planner, Columbia Wedding

Picture 1 /// Picture 2

Place Cards – Anything that states a person’s name and is used to show a person their place at a table (easy way to remember this – place cards place you at a specific seat).

Escort Card Display, SC Wedding Planner, Columbia SC Wedding Planner, Columbia Wedding

Picture 1 /// Picture 2

Now, do you have to have both for your wedding day? No, it totally depends how you want to manage your guest experience and the formality of your wedding. The most common card used at weddings is the escort card and I HIGHLY suggest using them. Escort cards are especially useful for large guest lists.

For small intimate events, using place cards is quite acceptable.

So now that you know the difference between the two, let’s dig into the fun stuff… the different types of cards you can use. Now this is where infusing your love story/personality comes into play. You can get as creative as your want with these cards. Just because it says card, doesn’t mean you have to use a card!!

Tell me… what did you use or what will you be using for your wedding?

Insider Tips | Tips for Choosing Your Venue

Location, location, location! You’ve taken the first step by choosing your date, and now the next question everyone is asking is, “Where are you getting married?!?!” Time to tour venues! One important thing to jot down before you even start seeking out different places to visit is your aesthetic goals for the big day. You can narrow down your search right off the bat by knowing what vibe you’re going for. After that, it’s all about the details.

Make Some Room

You HAVE TO HAVE an idea of your guest count before investing time in looking at venues. If you know you need enough space for 200 guests, you’ll have to rule out the quaint barn that can only accommodate 100 guests and make a list of venues that can accommodate at least 200 people. Making sure you have enough space for your guest list will set everything else into motion. The next question you want to ask yourself is… do want to offer overnight accommodations at the venue or nearby. Does the venue have a bridal suite for your hair and make up to be done or will you have to travel? Having this question on a priority list will make your venue search easier.

Lake Murray Wedding in Columbia, SC planned by Avila Dawn Events

Julia Fay Photography

Set Your Limit

What is my budget? Your venue could be the largest expense of your wedding or only a sliver.  A large guest list with a small budget could post problems for other accommodations you’re hoping to include on your wedding day. Venues will often offer special deals for certain days or months of the year they may otherwise not book, or may offer an incentive if you take their recommendation of other vendors.

wedding venue

Studio Two One Two Photography

Let Us Do The Talking

Ask tough questions. This is where having a wedding planner will take a list of stressful considerations off your list. Knowing the fine print of the venue and what restrictions they may have on catering, decor, or timing plays a huge role in choosing your other vendors. Luckily, your wedding planner has plenty of experience speaking with venues and making sure nothing will cause a hitch on your big day or the planning process.

wedding venue

Shane Harden Photography

Trust your gut and don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion. As a planner, it’s our job to guide you through the process and fill in any of the big questions you may forget to ask or consider. If you don’t even know where to begin, start with these questions and then we can start a list of where to look. From experience, you always know when you walk into the perfect space where you want your wedding to be. Working with a planner will guarantee it will hit every requirement on your list when you fall in love.. with the venue, that is!

Insider Tips | Creating A Wedding Budget

Wedding Budgets

Budgets are in the air as we find ourselves immersed in the season of love… and weddings! Pinning down a wedding budget can seem overwhelming, but we aim to take the pain points out of this process. Consider your budget like the foundation of your home, bearing all the weight of what you will create from it. Follow these tips and you will be ready to bring your vision to life!

Talk It Over

We cannot stress enough how important it is to have a conversation with your significant other. Finances can be a major strain in any relationship, and the last thing you want is to start your marriage off with a whole bunch of debt you didn’t have before. This is the perfect time to get on the same page and understand each other’s perspective on the wedding. It doesn’t have to be scary! Sit down with your fiancé and get down to numbers. Discuss what you have and what is simply out of the question— this will eliminate any surprises or arguments down the line. This conversation should happen before anything is purchased or booked. The best way to go into your marriage is knowing you were able to compromise and stick to an agreed budget.


No Monopoly Money

Seriously. Only discuss money that you already have. So often we see brides being promised money from relatives, even friends, and this is scary. You never know what financial burdens may hit someone when they’re promising you a large piece of your budget. Any factors that are not currently in your hand and tangible, don’t consider. It’s easier to have extra cash down the line to splurge with than to make promises with money you may never get. A big no-no here is factoring in bonuses or raises as well. Future money should not come into play unless it is a set aside portion of your paycheck you have already been able to save up. We’re not saying to get caught up on uncertainties, but a budget should be set on an already saved amount, not what you are hoping to have down the line.

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Prioritize Your Must Haves

When creating a budget, also discuss what your priority list is with your fiancé. Put down the social media and all expectations of a “perfect wedding” and think about what you want! It’s YOUR day. Also keep in mind, many wedding inspirations available online are styled shoots that may rack up thousands of dollars for just one table. You are definitely going to need more than just the one table, right!? Make a list of what you cannot live without at your wedding such as food, a band or DJ, seating, florals, oh and don’t forget the venue to keep it all in! Once you start writing down what you want, talking with your planner about the price ranges of these vendors and detail items will help steer your price range to affordable options, or what you can do yourself.

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Creating your budget is the first step to your planning process, and should be an open and honest conversation with your partner. Take into consideration what you have saved and make a list of what you want to make sure you have at your wedding. Then, go over this list and your dollar amount with your planner to help guide your vision to the most budget-friendly and true to your vision options!

Photo 2 + 3: Jessica Hunt Photography

Insider Tips | Wedding Websites

Wedding Website

With the availability of social media and internet in our pockets, wedding websites are the latest trend that is here to stay! Keeping your guests in the loop and part of the planning experience has never been easier. With a wedding website, you can send out every detail of your upcoming day without wasting paper or making calls!

Sounds great… but I have never made a website before?!

The beauty of having technology at our fingertips is the ability to transform yourself into a webmaster for a day! Luckily there are TONS of sites (some even FREE) that provide templates and customizations to make the process straightforward and simple!!! Upload photos from your engagement shoot, tease your guests with your color scheme swatches, keep everyone posted with the venue address, time, and every detail.

The Knot Wedding Website
Keep It Fun!

Use the wedding website as a fun, creative purge for all your wedding ideas. You may feel like you’re running around reporting to your family, friends, vendors, and planner, but this is for you! Putting yourself to work is a test of what ideas are working and what you can scrap. You’ll be able to incorporate some of your theme and colors that will give you time to make sure everything is cohesive. It’s also an opportunity to type out your “About” section and let everyone know how you met and a little about your relationship. This will not only connect your guests, but could avoid you having to tell the story over and over at the wedding!

Sync Up the Important Stuff

Don’t overthink it! Choose your favorite photos together and make sure your wedding date is displayed as a bold focal point. Adding in a countdown is a great feature here to get your guest (and yourself!) extra excited to count down! Make sure you have a widget or a link to your registry for convenience. Including details and links to hotel blocks, directions, and details (ex: Do you have a cash bar? What time do they need to arrive, ceremony start time) will ensure your attendees know all the important information.

We are happy to help! As wedding planners, we love all new trends that embellish your big day and help eliminate any stress in your planning process. If you’re not sure where to start, let’s map out a couple ideas you have and go from there. Keep in mind, your wedding website does not have to display every detail, but will keep you and your guests organized. Show off! Let everyone know just how amazing your relationship is. Start with your love story and we’ll work out the rest, together!

bride & groom

Photography: Aneris Photography

A couple wedding website resources to check out: The Knot, MintedGrey and Riley.

Insider Tips | Renting Bridesmaid Dresses

You just said #yestothedress and now hunting for the perfect dress for your girls. Well before you spend hours inside of dress salons, check out three of my favorite dress rental sites.  They have an extensive selection in every silhouette and shade and your bridesmaids will greatly appreciate that the cost is significantly cheaper than purchasing the designer look outright. These dress rental websites are making the choice for bridal-party wear very simple.
Renting Bridesmaid Dresses by Avila Dawn Events
Rent the Runway
RTR really changed the game when it came to online dress rental and the site has expanded to include a robust bridal selection, including gowns for bridesmaids. The process is simple: the bride and bridal party search for their selection of dress and make a decision on which they would like; the designs are booked for four or eight day rentals; you wear the dress and then return it in its pre-paid envelope — dry cleaning included. The brand also has a brick-and-mortar store in New York City and Las Vegas, so ladies can test drive dresses ahead of time.
Vow to be Chic

Vow to be Chic promises to make sure that the price of your bridesmaids dresses are affordable, with designs starting at just $50 from labels like Nicole Miller, Theia, Tadashi Shoji and Jill Jill Stuart. Once your ladies submit their measurements, the site will send along the most-loved dresses in two sizes to be tried on at home. The bridal party can then send back the dresses they don’t want in the pre-paid packaging provided, and return the ones worn after the festivities are over. (Bonus for brides: The site just launched rentable little white dresses — perfect for your all of your pre-wedding parties!)

Weddington Way

Weddington Way has very cool social features, which allow brides to compare and share their experiences. First, the bride registers, then adds any gowns she likes to her list of favorites. Once she’s gathered all of her picks, she can compare the designs side-by-side and then add the members of her bridal party to the site. The ‘maids vote on their faves and the bride can add the highest-ranked dress to her girls’ shopping carts. To try on the dresses before purchasing, bridesmaids can visit Weddington Way’s brick-and-mortar store in the San Francisco Bay area or enroll in the site’s “Try Before You Buy” program.

Insider Tips | 5 Reasons to Take Bridal Portraits

5 Reasons to Take Bridal Portaits, Avila Dawn Events

Bridal Portraits… I will advise any bride if you have it in your budget take them! Today I am giving you 5 reason why you SHOULD take bridal portraits and some photos from my own bridal shoot. Dominic of Fokas Photography shot my bridal portraits.  It was great working with Dominic and his crew. They are so funny and just genuinely great individuals and want to capture the best moments possible for your wedding journey.

Bridal Session at Riverfront Park in Charleston, SC | Avila Dawn Events

DevlinBridalColor (019 of 21)

The day of my bridal portraits it was cold and if you know me I HATE being cold. But I took it all in good stride. At least it wasn’t raining. We had my bridal session down at Riverfront Park. The park offered many different scenes, which I really loved. We were able to capture some Southern moments, as well as some edgy shots.

Now as for why you need to have a bridal session:
1.) First and foremost, it allows you to evaluate exactly how you will look on your wedding day. Many will advise you to do your trial makeup and hair session for your engagement shoot and although I still suggest that because hey you want to get all glammed up for those photos as well, there is nothing like knowing how your dress, hair, makeup, accessories and shoes all work together. If anything didn’t quite fit right or didn’t work out as well as you would of liked you now have time to make those changes before the big day!!

Bridal Session at Riverfront Park in Charleston, SC | Avila Dawn Events

2.) You will find areas of your dress that still need altering. When you go in for a fitting, you usually only spend around 30 minutes in your gown and most of the time you are standing in front of mirror still, while your seamstress pins the tiny details and imperfections that her eye notices. Plus you don’t move because you don’t want to get stuck! Well it is a completely different experience being in your dress for 2-3 hours. During your portraits, you will be moving, standing, sitting down, bending over and will begin to notice where places are too tight or not tight enough. You can then use your final dress fitting to address any of these issues, so that they don’t drive you bonkers on the day of the wedding.

Bridal Session at Riverfront Park in Charleston, SC | Avila Dawn Events

Bridal Session at Riverfront Park in Charleston, SC | Avila Dawn Events

3.) On the day of the wedding you will feel more comfortable and relaxed knowing that your photographer has already capture beautiful portraits of you in your gown and that is not something else that has to be squeezed into the morning. Since you have already had your session, you should also feel more comfortable in front of the camera, since that will happen a lot on your big day.

Bridal Session at Riverfront Park in Charleston, SC | Avila Dawn Events

DevlinBridalColor (009 of 21)

4.) Different Backgrounds/Change of Scenery. Most of the time, you will be getting ready in a hotel room, which may not always be the most glamorous background for photos. I would of never been able to capture the scenery from my bridal shoot, during my wedding day. So if there are any locations that you would love to have your portraits taken that you won’t be able to capture on the wedding day… write it down as a possible location for the shoot.

Bridal Session at Riverfront Park in Charleston, SC | Avila Dawn Events

Bridal Session at Riverfront Park in Charleston, SC | Avila Dawn Events

5.) Get creative and use the images. I recommend that brides take a moment aside with your dad before he walks you down the aisle. This is the perfect time to give him a beautiful picture of you in your gown with a card expressing how much he means to you. You could do the same for your mother, grandparents, etc. This is a nice way to share your feelings for that special person and create a nice keepsake for them to remember your wedding!

Bridal Session at Riverfront Park in Charleston, SC | Avila Dawn Events

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