The best wedding planning advice I ever got

I got married 9 (gasp) years ago and the one piece of advice I won't forget and have passed on when asked is: choose 3 words you want to describe your wedding. This advice is so simple and magical and practical all at the same time. At first it seems a little hokey, but the more Ben (then fiance, now husband) and I talked about it the more helpful it was. We were so overwhelmed with all the decisions we had to make and I was pulled in so many directions I didn't know how to choose anything.

Then we picked 3 words.

It brought things into focus - what was important to us? What feeling did we want our guests to have when they experienced this day with us? Suddenly we knew which flowers made sense and what location would fit us best. It works no matter the level of DIY projects you have, how big or how small the wedding will be, how much or little money you spend. Those 3 words can be a place you can come back to over and over to give you clarity and direction. They also serve as a great way to constantly be reminded why you're planning this celebration to begin with.

  • Amanda

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PS I also was told to try sitting backwards on the toilet when the time came (I had a 5 foot train)... and that was pretty amazingly helpful. Didn't need to experience going to the bathroom with my 5 closest friends watching! (I: And as close as we are as sisters, and as her MOH, I appreciated skipping that particular bonding experience too.) So if we haven't proven it already, we are here for you.

#hashtags

Pound sign, number, hash, octothorpe... the little # symbol has had quite an interesting life, which you can hear more about on an episode of 99% Invisible we first heard a few years ago (for those of us info nerds). These days it is mostly known as the hashtag (although technically # is a hash and using it to 'tag' a word is then a hashtag #themoreyouknow) and is a permanent fixture of social media, continuously evolving new ways to make itself useful.

Enter: the wedding hashtag. We're not sure if any of you remember the days when disposable cameras were a staple of centerpieces, but that's how people used to capture all those candid moments and invite their guests to be in on creating memories. Boy have things changed a lot since then #octothorpe.

A wedding hashtag isn't only #adorable it also helps you collect all those pictures people take and post on social media. Your photographer will be getting most of the key shots, but you never know what special moment friends will capture - either of themselves having fun or of you! (A here: one of my absolute favorite pictures from my own wedding was one a friend took during the father-daughter dance from further away, they were nice enough to email it to us later #oldschool) So how do you pick one? Well we've rounded up some resources to help get you started.

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#couplename

Use a combiner to mash your names together and become the next Bennifer, Kimye or Speidi.

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#punny

Who doesn't love a good pun? If this idea is calling your name, hash it out and pick one as a symbol of your love.

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#lastnamelove

You can also keep it simple by using your first and/or last name with a simple rhyme or your wedding date. As a bonus this site will help check whether anyone else is already using your idea.

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#insidejoke

Feel free to do something totally different and use a favorite movie quote, nickname or silly phrase that means something to you.

Disclaimer: some couples prefer to have a note asking people to not take photos during the ceremony, for example, or at least a reminder to silence digital devices. The ceremony in particular is full of many romantic, beautiful and often quiet moments where a cell phone might feel intrusive or disruptive. Phones have managed to work their way into every aspect of our lives #truth so if you would rather keep social media out of it, we think that's cool too.

Disclaimer #2 (ooh, now spotting the # references is like finding Waldo): we just had to share this from the hash/pound/number Wikipedia page "Not to be confused with the Chinese character , the sharp sign (), the viewdata square (), the numero sign (), the equal and parallel to symbol () or the game Tic-tac-toe's grid."

Happy hashtagging!

Our Perfect Picks: Amanda's favorite things

I wouldn't say I'm picky, I just know what I like. I spent a few weeks in graduate school taste-testing yogurts (unrelated to my degree, just to clarify) to decide on the best one to pack in my lunches... maybe a bit extreme, but if Oprah can have favorite things, why can't I?

 I think we established our love of cake.

Many of these are registry-worthy items if you're building one, but they also make good housewarming gifts, upgrading what you have or a birthday-present-to-me (just sayin'). And some are just a "trust me and buy this thing." For the most part I would consider these 'underrated items' so you won't see my beloved KitchenAid mixer on this list, although I love her very much. Oh and I think we established our love of cake.

- I'll start with the most urgent, time-sensitive one: SweeTango apples. If you see these, buy some and also grab a bag for me. Not always easy to find (and are seasonal, only available in the Fall - go now!), but so amazing. I first had one a few years ago and it’s pretty much ruined all other apples for me. Yes, I do follow/stalk them on social media.

- Making a wedding registry is overwhelming and suddenly you are registering for $200/5-piece set everyday flatware that will possibly get lost or destroyed in a garbage disposal #truestory. At $34.99 for a 60-piece set (plus you can buy a bunch of individual pieces, like the small spoons that keep disappearing...) this silverware is all kinds of perfect. It has a nice weight, simple style and somehow the perfectly sized big and little spoons (a registry argument averted for us). They have quite a nice variety of styles, all at great prices.

- I've been known to include this unregistered-for ice cream scoop in wedding presents… hey, if you register for anything that looks like it could hold ice cream, then you need this.

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- If you know us, you know how much we love tea and I am really happy with this water kettle, which has been used heavily for a few years now (note: I have a slightly older model). It’s cordless, glass and the shape is just adorable.

- And speaking of tea… this tea box is so pretty in my little beverage station.

- It's not sexy, but food storage containers are a necessity and I recently fell in love with these. I can't take credit for the discovery as my favorite testing kitchen did the hard work here, but after you watch this video you'll see why. I love all the interchangeable compartments, how well they seal and how easy they are to open/close. I've also been trying to reduce our consumption of single-use plastics and these make that so much easier.

- A cute cheese board and knife set (or pretty much anything else on this website). Cheese is already great, it doesn't need help impressing people, but it deserves to be treated like the party royalty we all know it is.

And really, pandas. Pandas are definitely my favorite thing.

Color inspiration No.2

Welcome to another edition of our color inspiration series! This post is for those of you who are loving Color, with a capitol "C", as much as we are right now. Year-round we're feeling inspired by Color Me Courtney, Studio DIY, Oh Joy! (A: you know I went directly to buy that suitcase) and Sugar & Cloth. The fact that rich and vibrant Colors are no longer restricted to spring and summer feels like the biggest "wait, why weren't we doing this before?" moment ever.

To be clear, we are aspiring color-ists who only hope to be as cool as those ladies. So even if you're just warming up to the idea or feeling intimidated by having an all-out curated rainbow theme party, we have some options for you. Color palettes are often restricted to just a handful of colors, which is what we're showing here, but if you want all the color, go for it!

Orange is such a fun color that doesn't get enough play, so we decided to highlight it here. Each image has been sourced from inspiring Instagram feeds you'll want to follow (click the photos to see the original post).

Bold look - maybe not the whole rainbow, but we're getting pretty close.

Fresh new take - here we chose two of these bold colors in various hues to make a statement that feels a little more approachable.

Classic interpretation - here's an option for if you love all the colors, but want something a little more toned down.

If you haven't tried out Coolors yet, this post reminded us about one of it's awesome functions: upload or link any image and it will help you find the hex color codes! (I: I absolutely love this function! It doesn’t just help you identify one color, it helps develop a whole palette based on an image that resonates with you.) So if any of these images inspired you, it's easy enough to get a color palette for your own project planning.

Bonus: if you're going to be in NYC, check out the newest Color Factory installation - please bring it to Seattle!

Party Mixology!

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Learning how to make cocktails is a relatively new hobby for us, but now we totally get it. (Amanda here, let's be honest, it started when I realized the décor potential - vintage bar cart, glasses, serving trays... Isabelle here, that’s totally true) It's another place to explore and be creative, which we love. It can also be a great way to tie together a party theme and as it turns out, makes for a great party activity! Especially at showers. We have even adapted the idea to include several non-alcoholic options with lots of fresh fruit juices for baby showers.

Guests really enjoy getting creative no matter how simple or complicated the options are, so here are some ideas to help get you started, future posts will explore these more!

- Decide whether you want to guide guests through making a specific cocktail or have a choose-your-own-adventure bar.

- Create a sign (hand-written or printed) that walks guests through the options. Tip: slip this into a sheet protector or frame since we know it will get a little crazy!

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- There are many go-to classic cocktails that are good any time of year, but for a party we like to try to pick something that fits the season. For summer mojitos you can have a live mint plant and in the winter you can take advantage of the all the 'fresh' peppermint candy canes around.

- Similarly, consider picking a cocktail that can fit with your party theme. Even if you choose a relatively simple drink, you can get creative with the glasses, stir sticks and garnishes.

Whether you want to invent a signature cocktail for your wedding or have a mini-DIY cocktail bar for a backyard BBQ, hopefully this series can help give you some ideas! Future posts in the series will include our favorite recipes and inspirations for your events, so keep an eye out for posts with “Mixology” in the title for some cocktail motivation!

One of our favorite resources for cocktail recipe ideas is A Beautiful Mess - they also have great posts about making, stocking and styling your own bar cart!