Sunday, December 13, 2009

Centerpieces that grow. Literally

Last week was Melissa & Brandon's wedding out at South Seas.  Melissa made it a priority to make her wedding as eco-friendly and charitable as possible, and so I wanted to do my part too.  For her rehearsal dinner centerpieces I purchased these incredibly cute Bella Palms- tropical and tiny enough to be on a table top.

Of course, I find the fake (plastic) terra cotta pot they come in not so table-top-fabulous.  So I placed the pots into a glass cylinder filled with these red kidney beans.

What I did not expect is that when I got them home and removed them from the cylinder that they would get weeds while sitting on my lanai.  For those who don't know me...I am not the green thumb or dirt type.  Not even a little.  I was ready to just toss these cutie pie palms out when I looked a little closer.
Those aren't weeds...they're little Kidney bean plants!  They had managed to germinate in just one weeks time and are already a foot tall!  How funny.

 So does anybody want some Kidney Beans?  I have about 13 seedlings. HA!

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Pro Series: Jason P Smith

Insanely talented.  That's what I emailed back to Jason after he shared these last images with me from our wedding just a week ago (click on featured weddings and then Melissa and Brandon).  While I was looking at his site, I also looked back to watch the slideshow from our 1st wedding together (Holly & Bradd) and wow did the memories come flying back.  Jason is the epitome of a true wedding photojournalist...he doesn't make pictures happen at all, he waits for the moments to arrive and captures them instantly.  In other words, "enjoy your wedding day as you will, I'll document it for you."

What is your company name and profession?
Jason P. Smith Weddings; I'm a photographer
What’s your name?
Should I know anyone else from your company?
Jason. Nope, it's just me.

Where do you do weddings?
 I've shot in a lot of places: Florida, Colorado, Maine, Michigan, Maryland, etc. I really enjoy traveling, so I'm always open to new locations and destinations. I'm available internationally.
How long have you been in business?
I've been in business seven years

Why weddings?
I love to tell stories with photos. My background is in photojournalism, and that is what photojournalism is all about; weddings are a natural extension of this in many ways. It's a story that is only told once, so it's always very rewarding when someone asks me tell their story--from the little things they spent months planning to the things they never expected would happen. Every wedding has a unique story and personality, and I work to make all of that come together in my images.
What your clients most often commend you on?
I would have to say the one thing that most people mention is that they really didn't notice me much during the course of the day, which is a big compliment. I do my best not to interfere with the course of the day as much as possible. My philosophy on wedding photography is that if you are working as a photojournalist and capturing the day as it unfolds, you will come away with a more compelling and story of the day.

Oh, and people enjoy the photos as well!

Best piece of advice for brides & grooms?
he best piece of advice I can give is to just plan a wedding that fits your style, and have a great time doing it.
What is one thing that makes working with new clients easier?
It would have to be having a similar vision for how the day's story will unfold through photos. It is so important that couples not only look for someone who they would like to spend the day with, but also someone they can trust to tell their story in a way that will really help preserve the memories for their future.
Can I find you on Twitter?

What is the craziest request you’ve ever received? Or
What is the craziest thing you saw happen at a wedding?
Groomsmen burning money with their cigars at the reception
What is something you hope to do in the near future?
Man, that could be a long list. I always enjoy shooting in new locations, and places I've never been, so I hope to keep meeting interesting people and seeing new things. Both are a great source of inspiration.
Special just for you!
I'm currently offering a discount on travel rates.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Pro Series: AMC Video Productions

Nearly every single Wedding Budget planning discussion goes like this:
Me: Should we budget for video?
Bride: No, I'll never watch it.  Or I'll watch it once.
Groom: If we get HD video I have to get a PS3 so we can watch the Blu-ray disk.  Yeah, we want it.
Me: The most common "thank you for insisting Kelly" that I have received over the last 6 years is to get video. Have you seen a good wedding video; one produced in the last 2 years? Watch this and then let me know.
Bride: They're all cheesy and have country songs.
Me: Just watch.

Bride: Okay, we'll consider and let you know.
Groom: PS3.

I swear this is true, nearly 100% of the time, ask any of my brides who said yes to video:

after the ceremony...before they're even at the reception...
Groom: That was so fast, what did I say?
at the end of the night...
Bride and Mother of the Bride: When do we get the video? I can't wait to see it.
and when they see the directors cut online...
Bride & Groom: This is the best thing ever.  We just keep watching it over and over.
and when they get the video...
Bride & Groom: Thank you for insisting Kelly.
Me: Did you pick a country song?
What is your company name and profession?
AMC Video Productions.  We film weddings and events.  We specialize in high definition and luxury event videos.  We love what we do and are passionate about our work in the wedding industry.
What’s your name?
Should I know anyone else from your company?
My name is AnnMarie Epple.  My husband Rob is my partner.   You might even see Lee, Matias, Jaron and Steven, our videography team.  Behind the scenes are our editors Christa, Shannon and Laura.  We are expanding all the time as our business keeps growing.
Where do you do weddings?
We capture weddings everywhere!  Most of the time you can find us in Naples, Sanibel Island, Captivia and Marco Island.  
Blog Title 
AMC’s Weddings and Events (
How long have you been in business?
11 years 
Why weddings?
Weddings are such a happy time!  We love to be a part of such an important event and watch the process unfold from the early planning stages to the wedding day. 
What your clients most often commend you on?
“WOW, your work is amazing”.  Many people think that video is what is was 10 years ago, long and boring.  (My own wedding video is like this!).  However video has come a long way and a good video company should be able to capture the day with creativity and tell a story that is different from any other.  Every day we hear from clients how they searched and searched for a video and how our work stands out above the rest.  That is what keeps us going.  The day we don’t hear those words, we know its time to find something else to do!
Best piece of advice for brides & grooms?
Take your time, and check out lots of vendors.  You will see a big difference in quality.  Shopping by price is not a good idea.  In the end, you will be disappointed if you do not find the right vendor for your big day! Ask to see a full length sample of a real wedding video.  From what we hear, this is a good way to see what you are actually getting, and you might be surprised at what you see.  Don’t settle for a one camera package, ask for 2 or 3 for multiple perspective, better creativity, and safety!  Is HD available?  We have been delivering HD for years now.  Everyone should be shooting HD.  The difference is amazing!  We are all ready taking steps to upgrade to the next big technological changes.
What is one thing that makes working with new clients easier?
It is always great to meet with a bride or groom and actually here what their vision of what they would like captured.  This way, we know what they are looking for in a finished product.  No two videos are the same.  Every person has a vision, and we like to customize video to exactly what our brides and grooms want.
Can I find you on Twitter?
Yes you can.  Rob twitters at amcvideo
What is the craziest request you’ve ever received? Or
What is the craziest thing you saw happen at a wedding?
Requests that we get all the time ---“Can you please remove all footage of the girl in the red dress?  We do not want to see her in our video!”  We have our local brides come to our studio for a preview before we make the final cuts – so we are hearing this more often then you would think.  Long distance brides get mailed a preview DVD before the finals are cut.  This way they are able to work with Rob on the final product and have exactly what they want.
Crazy stuff – we have seen lots of it!!  Belly dancers, monkeys, giraffes, sword cake cutting and brides and grooms jumping in the pool to name a few!
What is something you hope to do in the near future?
We are planning on doing a lot more travel beyond south west Florida, servicing discriminating brides who want more then just a video with a lot of coverage.

Special just for you!
Anyone who reads this blog post is eligible for a FREE upgrade to High Definition with Blu-Ray DVDS as long as we are available for your date!!!


Friday, December 04, 2009

This is how your wedding should end

I just love this picture that Michelle Reed captured of Clint & Lauren last month. In this one single picture you see the excitement, joy, and fun.
What a great memory this photo will evoke for each of the guests that experienced that evening. A few key things I'd like to point out that you might consider to get the same kind of picture for your wedding day:
1. Lauren changed into a "getaway dress" or "going away outfit" 20 minutes before the reception ended.
2. The photographer was scheduled to stay until the end of the reception.
3. Confetti was given to all the guests as they were ushered to the porte-cochere.
4. A "getaway" car was rented for the wedding day to use for all the arrival and departures. In this case we rented a white convertible; but an antique car is also a great idea.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Send them packing

How about a simple thanks for coming send away gift for your destination wedding guests: A small bag with a starbucks via, a bottle of water, sugar, creamer, and a disposable coffee cup. Super easy and sweet.
Add a nice note to really say thanks.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Southern Weddings Volume II

So worth the wait.

It might take 5 visits to 5 different newsstands, but I can assure you its worth it.
This second issue of Southern Weddings After the last issue being an innovation in the wedding magazine world, I knew the next would be phenomenal.
What I find fantastic about Southern Weddings is that its quite honestly just about weddings and how amazing they are. When I read it, I felt like each and every page was a celebration that was all completely realistic. How thrilled was I that I didn't have to look at yet another 5 page spread of gorgeous wedding dresses on a model with something like an actual birds nest with live birds in her hair, while she was eating a lobster and standing on a log floating down the river? Insanely thrilled. Sounds corny, I know- but when you live in the wedding world (temporarily as a bride or permanently as a professional)...real is what you ache for: gorgeous pictures, plenty of advice and tips (look for mine on page 117), great shopping resources and finds, and candid comments.
Now, Lara, when can I get volume III; because my current copy is already on read thru #8.

Meet Michelle. Wedding-a-holic #2

I met my match when Michelle came to WBS. I didn't think it was possible for anyone to truly love weddings anywhere near as much as I do. She proved me wrong. She's an avid wedding blog and magazine reader, and is ridiculous on wedding research- she can find anything. Needless to say, we are 2 peas in a pod. The only thing Michelle has failed at is teaching me spanish. Last time I tried, a spanish speaking attendant laughed at me and said, "What?" in english. Oh that was a laugh!
Over the last nearly 2 years, Michelle has been more than my right arm, she's the one that always knows exactly what direction I'm coming from and where it is I want to get to. She knows and appreciates the standards I hold and she cares for our clients as much as I do. I am so grateful for Michelle.
Michelle on Twitter: @wbsMichelle

Recommended-Preferred-Favorite- call it what you will.

What you'd notice if you were to sift through all the weddings I have had the opportunity to plan is that quite frequently you're going to come across the same professionals. As a wedding planner it is my responsibility to present my clients with options that are best for them and the events that they are planning. So when a client asks for my recommendations to book their vendors, my list is full of people I love to work with. Are they favorites? I suppose you could look at it that way. You could also look at preferred or recommended professionals from the same perspective as I:
They've proven that they're consistently dependable, high quality & fair;
They've exceeded my expectations & more importantly, exceeded my clients expectation;
They're a pleasure to work with from the 1st meeting through the wedding day (and beyond when it comes to photographers & videographers).
It also means that:
They're more than knowledgeable of their product/service;
That they know the locations, rules and restrictions of venues we frequently work at;
And that they work well with other wedding professionals.

Side note: If you have a team of professionals who love working together- you get a better wedding. There is no denying this. Just like your job- when you have awesome co-workers, the results are always better because the "workplace" is just a better place to be. It's great when I can call up a florist and say, "so&so is going to be making the cake for this wedding", and the florist gets incredibly excited. Why? Because she knows that she's going to be decorating a masterpiece (and a masterpiece that will arrive on time at that).

So what to do if you don't have a planner to give you a great list of exceptional professionals who love to work together? Ask your vendors who they love to work with. They'll be honest because they want to work with them too.

In the photos: Just a small few of the SW Florida wedding pros who love weddings, love to work together, and to celebrate each others successes and accomplishments. There are many many more, but it would make this post 15 pages long.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Meet Ericka. She’s tiny but mighty.

Ericka knocks out a to do list like nobody’s business. Somehow she has the magic ability to get our clients to respond in record time.  Since she’s only had one wedding with us, so she’s still in that shock and awe stage of wedding planning.  It only takes about 3 weddings though to realize how consistently crazy destination weddings really are behind the scenes.Ericka   Ericka is also the only one who sings out loud with me in the car when we’re going to meetings.  Thank you for singing with me Ericka.  Like Whitney, she graduates from school next year; so I think I’ll just give her a 6000 item to do list so that she has to stay longer.

Ericka on Twitter: @wbsEricka

Meet Whitney. She makes everyone smile and organizes everything.


WhitneyWhitney is why our studio is so organized.  It’s very clear when she’s been out of the office for a few days because there will be client binders all over the floor and all the desks are covered in wedding planning documents and details.  We can also tell when Whitney was there because there’s always something prettied up.  Last month I came back from 2 weeks of traveling and she had redesigned the bathroom with the leftovers from the October weddings.  Whitney is also who keeps me in line with the stuff that I am so not focused on (because I’m always focused on weddings).  Things like paying the garbage bill and booking my hotel reservations.Whitney (1) I’m not looking forward to the summer coming because I know that Whitney is going to graduate and leave Weddings by Socialites to go be the best ever personal assistant L.A. has ever seen.  Until then, we are so glad to have her.

I have to give credit to a couple people: Krista at Impressions Photography who took all our staff photos and Ashley Brockinton who told me about Whitney in the first place.

Whitney on Twitter: @wbsWhitney

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

More great video!

This was our 1st wedding of the spring season this year and it was such a fantastic one to start off with. Thanks again to AMC video for sharing these clips with us today.

An oh so sweet clip

I love video!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Return address with flair

You're going to be sending alot of thank you notes. Rather than go with your standard return labels or pre-printed return address, consider a custom made hand stamp. I prefer hand stamp over self inking so that I can use different colored inks.

I tried ordering from some of the Recently blogged about and even highlighted in a magazine calligraphy stamp makers, and still haven't heard back from them weeks later. This one From had a proof to me in less than 3 hours, and I had my stamp in hand 4 days later. Oh, and it was less than $25.
You could also have custom stamps made for paper projects like your escort cards, welcome bag tags, candy bar bags, etc.

-- Posted from my iPhone "Because I'm always on wedding style alert."
Kelly McWilliams

Monday, October 12, 2009

You said the funniest thing.

Sometimes my clients just have me rolling. Today I get a client email about a cupcake design photo she was sent:
"The only thing I don't prefer about the cupcakes in this example is the doggie poo-shaped icing."

The crazy thing was that not even looking at the picture- I knew exactly what she was talking about. So, let this be a message to cupcake bakers everywhere. No doggie poo shaped icing please.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Most Gorgeous Wedding: The Martha Paltrow Series

The After Glow

Once the amazing dinner was complete, and the formal dances were danced- the party really began.
Vox Blu brought down the house!

This is one of the few bands I recommend on a regular basis, and will fight over. Yes, they're that good.

The cake and cupcakes. Hello loves.
What a beautiful classic cake. This Kakes by Karen design tasted as exquisite as it appeared. Also on the dessert table there were Madelines, an assortment of candies, cookies and nuts, and my favorite Chocolate confections by the infamous Norman Love.

As a refresher, mid way through the after glow we sent around these sorbet scoops. and yes, the crowd went wild!

Friday, October 09, 2009

Notice the changes on Wedding Tidbits?

I am so happy to share all the new and exciting changes here at Wedding by Socialites! First, I want to introduce to you Erin Williams. Erin is our Director of Visual Communications and she is ridiculously talented (and hysterical).
She's the creative brains behind the new logos and looks for the website and blog, and quite frankly, I don't know where I'd be at this moment if she hadn't walked in the studio a few months back. She's worked all summer getting things cleaned up and looking pretty.

Today I am super excited to start sending out our new "Featured on" badge! If you or your business has been featured on the blog, expect an email from us over the next week with everything you need to add the badge to your blog and/or website.
Erin on Twitter @wbsErin
Photo credit: Impressions Photography

Warning: Escort cards can and will blow away.

Just a note to think about. No matter how pretty or awesome your escort card display is, wind can change everything. Prepare your "cards" so that they can remain stationary and in order. Missing cards and cards not in alphabetical order cause wedding chaos.
These were message in a bottle escort cards from Blizzard Bride's wedding. The guest name and table number was wrapped around the outside, and then on the inside there was a tiny handwritten note for each guest.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

A Most Gorgeous Wedding: The Martha Paltrow Series

The Flowers

There are florists who do weddings and, and then there are florists who make weddings.

Floral Artistry makes weddings; and this one has to be one of their finest works.It's more than just the arrangements that are exquisite, its the individually selected stems and blooms. It's the quality, color, and size of each individual flower that makes this wedding exquisite.

In all my years of planning and design, I have never seen so many flawless blush immense pink peonies or perfectly bloomed cherry blossoms.While I want this post to be all about these stunning flowers, I feel compelled to note again how amazing the photography is. Krista of Impressions Photography has such talent and ability to capture images with some of the most striking angles and lighting techniques, that each of her images truly seem to come to life. This is exactly what you want to have when you go back to look at your wedding images-
the ability to recapture your emotions for a moment.
Your wedding video captures the live sound and movement of your day unlike anything else, and your photos capture the details that make time stand still.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

A Most Gorgeous Wedding: The Martha Paltrow Series


The wedding colors were pink and naturals. Alison has always been a very pink girl! She has always loved Martha Stewart, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Laura Ashley. They were her main inspirations while she planned her wedding and also the reason she got her nickname Martha Paltrow. The reception room is where the pink theme really shined through. The walls had a pink glow, due to the custom lighting, while the ceilings carried through the tropical feel with custom palm trees gobos. The tables were draped with specially made for the event linens. They were a natural colored linen with pink runners across the table. The florist designed 2 different center pieces, one high and one low.
Each place setting had a special touch with a local shell.
One of the center pieces at the tables was a tall glass celebration vase of light pink Cherry Blossom branches. The vases was surrounded with square votives providing glowing candle light, a floral cluster in a mint julep cup; square glass containers in various heights with white pillar candles, and another small flower cluster in a glass square vase. Each of the floral clusters were unique, using different combinations of light pink antique Hydrangea, light pink Roses, light pink Tulips, light pink Kermit Mums, and light pink Wax Flowers. The other center piece consisted of a floral cluster in a large square vase surrounded by the same surrounding of the first center piece.
The receptions entry room was decorated with a beautiful tall tree of blooming light pink Cherry Blossoms and fuchsia Bougainvillea branches, created by the florist. The guest escort cards were hand printed beautifully on different shades of pink paper circles. Each was hand tied to the branches of the tree with green ribbon. As they walked up the steps to the main reception room the guest walked up a path lit with lanterns.

Included in their video package was on site editing of the ceremony. This allowed the bride and groom, along with all their guests, to watch a recap of the ceremony during the reception. The bride and groom also filmed a thank you and toast for all their guests that aired at the end of the recap.

The Dinner Menu:
Amuse Bouche; Red & Yellow Tomato Gazpacho with Lump Crab
1st Course; Boston Bibb lettuce salad with Dijon Mustard vinaigrette crowned with thinly sliced Avocado
2nd Course: Pan seared Georgia Beef Filet with Celery Root Puree, Hen of the woods mushrooms, and wild Arugala with port reduction in Truffle oil.
Crispy Skin Salmon, confit marbled potatoes, and Orange Fennel Endive
Accompanied by Asparagus, Sugar Snap Peas, and Whole Pea sautee

All Photos by Impressions Photography

101 Destination Wedding Planning Tips

From the editors of Destination Weddings & Honeymoons