Here Comes The Guide's Blog

Get Rid Of Bad Wedding Gifts Once And For All

Tell the truth: for your wedding gift, would you rather receive a pink ceramic Victorian cat or that Bose SoundDock you always wanted? Yeah, thought so.

After spending $150 on Egyptian cotton linens for his close friend, the groom, and finding out that said groom couldn’t remember what he’d given them, Aric Martinez decided that there had to be a better way for couples to personalize their registry and get what they actually want—even the expensive stuff.

He created so guests can purchase “shares” in high-end gifts the bride and groom want but can’t justify buying for themselves. So if, for example, Aunt Gertrude and 3 friends each buy a share at $75 apiece, they can get you that Bose SoundDock you’ve been coveting for your home. And if you don’t have a home, people can actually contribute money towards your down payment. Now that’s a gift you’ll absolutely remember! This clever website offers a wide selection of gifts to choose from, but if they don’t have something you want they’ll work out a way to get it on your registry.

Check out the possibilities at

How To Honor Loved Ones At Your Wedding

Somebody you consider dear has passed; how do you honor them on your wedding day without bringing everyone’s mood down a few notches?

I know this problem well. We were all missing my husband during his son’s wedding, but when the Best Man stood to honor him with a sincere tribute (which might have been a longer speech than his toast to the bride and groom!), tears—and not the happy kind!—started to flow.

No one should have to leave the reception to dry their eyes. And while this may sound harsh, your wedding is not your loved one’s memorial service. Weddings are joyous occasions, and my gut tells me that your loved ones would not want you to choose your special day to mourn.

Perfect Circle PhotographySo how do you respectfully acknowledge a loved one without losing the joy of a moment?

  • Place pictures of everyone who’s important to you, living or not, on a table at the reception. If you can add lots of goofy and fun pictures to the mix, it’ll become a celebration of life instead of a memorial.
  • If you’re having a video montage at your reception, don’t forget you’re the star of the show. Always keep the photos light and fun, and make sure the music has an upbeat tempo.
  • Is there a piece of Grandma’s jewelry you can wear at the ceremony? Is there material from her wedding dress that you can have made into a handkerchief?  Can the groom wear his grandpa’s cuff links? Just the act of wearing something of theirs can make you feel closer.
  • Incorporate a favorite bible verse, poem, or song in the ceremony. You can mention the significance in your wedding program, but don’t call attention to the reason during the event.
  • No poems coming to mind? Simply include their name in a special note in your wedding program: “Here in our hearts we honor…” You can add a dove, butterfly, or a cross after their name, or maybe even a little note that says: “we love that we know you are here in spirit, Grandpa”

Whatever you choose to do, remember: It’s your day. You set the boundaries. Discuss your feelings with your family and anyone giving toasts and speeches (including your officiant).

The day after my son’s wedding, I took flowers from the wedding and went to the park to set them on the memorial bench donated in honor of my husband’s life. I sat there for a while, cried a little, and left the bench thinking about how Russell and Alix were on their way to their honeymoon and new life together. That made me smile.

Wedding DJs: The Secret Of A Successful Wedding

Picture this: The spotlight’s on you and your new husband as you finish your first dance at your wedding reception. Waiting in the wings is the other important man in your life: your dad. As the final notes of that first song fade, Dad holds out his hand, ready to lead you back to the dance floor for the father-daughter dance. But when the first few bars of the Village People’s “YMCA” scream their way out of your iPod, you’re frozen in horror…did you really forget to add a father-daughter dance song to your wedding playlist?!

Kramer Entertainment, Inc.My buddy and colleague Denise described an eerily similar scenario that happened at her friend’s wedding. The bride had wanted to save some money by not hiring a DJ, but the plan backfired when her dad was cheated out of his moment!

A DJ makes last-minute adjustments that an iPod can’t. As Beau Kramer says, “A good DJ can keep the guests informed and involved. They constantly monitor the room and the energy of the guests, making subtle changes as needed.”

Another case in point: Many years ago, I coordinated a wedding at the Dunsmuir Hellman Historic Estate. The DJ had a great party going, until someone in the wedding party asked him to play a certain song. The DJ warned that the song would kill the energy of the party, and sure enough, the dance floor quickly emptied. But almost as soon as the dancers cleared the floor, the DJ’s next selection brought everyone back to life. He knew what would happen, and more importantly, he knew how to recover. I’d say that DJ earned his fee!

3 Tips for Getting Wedding Photos You Can Be Proud Of

As a wedding planner for umpteen years, I’ve learned that there’s no substitute for doing your homework. Follow these 3 steps before your wedding photo shoot, and you’ll increase your chances of getting the quality images you dream about.

Toki Cavener PhotographyWhen choosing a photographer, be sure you:

1) See and like their work. If you’ve chosen a studio that has multiple photographers, confirm that you’ll get the pro whose pictures you admire most, rather than an unknown associate. Some photographers display award-winning images, but may send an assistant instead. Read the fine print on the contract, and ask what would happen if the photog you specified is unavailable for any reason.

2) Get references. Sure, they seem nice and professional, but how can you be certain they’re reliable? The best way is to check them out by personally speaking with previous clients and venues where they’ve worked. Like all our wedding vendors, each one of our wedding photographers is Certified By The Guide, and has gone through our own rigorous reference check process.

3) Make friends with your photographer. When a person is uncomfortable while having their picture taken, it shows. For a special event like a wedding or a milestone anniversary, you might want to have a trial run with your photographer. An engagement or family shoot gives the photographer a chance to gauge your comfort level in front of a camera, and to notice details like when you blink your eyes or that nervous twitch of yours. It also gets them familiar with your good side and your less-good side—photographically and personality-wise.

For more wedding photography insights, be sure to read questions to ask when evaluating your wedding photographer.

What Everyone Should Know About Hiring A Wedding Photographer

When hiring a photographer for your wedding, remember that this is a business decision. The event professionals you talk to fully expect you to do your diligence. Besides, if they act offended, they aren’t really professional, right?

articles_altHere are some guidelines for getting revealing references:

  • We strongly advise you to call a few of a prospective photographer’s past wedding clients, and also contact at least one event location where they’ve worked. Good studio photographers aren’t always good event photographers, and vice versa.

Here are some questions to ask references that will get you revealing answers:

  • What’s the photographer’s temperament like? Are they tense while they work, adding to the stress of your day?  Or does their good humor contribute to the joy of the celebration?
  • Do they play well with others (e.g. your caterer, entertainment and master of ceremonies)? If they’re likely to fight with the DJ over a power cord or let the caterer’s grilled salmon grow cold while they get “one more shot,” then this isn’t the right photographer for you.
  • If you could improve anything about the photographer’s work style, what would it be?
  • Were there any added expenses that were not made clear to you before you signed a contract?
  • Did the photographer respond to your calls and questions efficiently?
  • Most importantly: Would you recommend them to a friend or family member?

If you’re using to find your wedding pros, you’re already ahead of the game. Like all our wedding vendors, each one of our wedding photographers is Certified By The Guide which means we talk to at least 10 other wedding professionals about their work and up to 10 brides and grooms who used that photographer at their event. We certify only those wedding pros who get rave reviews. Lukewarm feedback doesn’t cut it with us!

For more wedding photography insights, be sure to read questions to ask when meeting your wedding photographer.