Northern California Wedding Planner | Engagement Session Tips

Tips on How to Plan Your Engagement Session

We could never tire of seeing the photo galleries from our couple's engagement sessions, we love to see a glimpse into their relationship and their style.  Pinterest has definitely stepped up the bar for engagement photos, but it is important to be yourselves and plan a shoot that is comfortable for you.   Here are our top tips with a few of our favorite engagement shots!

Location Location!

Choosing the location for your engagement session is super important, because it is part of the story that your images are going to tell.  Do you see yourself on a mountainside or maybe by the ocean? What about sipping coffee together downtown in your favorite coffee shop or bookstore? 

Photo by Matthew Lim Photography

Photo by Matthew Lim Photography

Lighting is Everything

Once you've settled on a location with your photographer, consider the lighting/time of day that you have envisioned.  Typically sunrise or just before sunset lends itself to ideal lighting for outdoor sessions.  Above is one of our favorite shots by Matthew Lim that just captures the essence of Dara & Nick with amazing lighting!

Planning Your Wardrobe 

We recommend asking your photographer for advise on what to wear based on your location, lighting and style.  Wearing stripes can be tricky for example, or making sure that your straps on your gown or undergarments are secure so that you don't go back later and wish you had adjusted your strap etc.  Statement necklaces or fun pieces like colorful shoes or accessories can make your photos pop!

Ceremony Alter Design Inspirations

Ceremony altars come in many different shapes and sizes, textures and styles. When you think of walking down the aisle, what type of altar do you envision? Here are a few altar inspirations to get your creative juices flowing!

Desert Wedding
Desert Wedding

The 530 Bride's wedding planning services can help you create the wedding of your dreams by helping you craft the details and the atmosphere that will not only set the tone for your event but make a lasting memory for you and your guests.   Learn more on our services page. 

The Cost of Being a Bridesmaid

It is always an honor to be asked to be a bridesmaid or maid of honor in a wedding.  Being by the side of your good friend or family member when they stand at the altar on their big day and sharing in the journey to get there is pretty special!  All of that aside, it does come with some expenses.  We found an infographic on the web aimed to breakdown some of those costs:cost-of-wedding-high

Image courtesy of

Couples should try to keep these figures in mind when planning the involvement of their wedding party and make sure to communicate with everyone in their party to ensure that the expenses are not a hardship for anyone.  Being open to cost alternatives makes the experience better for everyone, a $200 bridesmaid dress may not be doable for some so its good to consider choosing a color and material and allowing the bridal party to find a dress that fits their style and their budget.

Are you a bridesmaid in a wedding?  Take our poll on the expenses of being in a wedding: [yop_poll id="4"]

Wedding Planning Tip: Draping & Lighting

If you have attended events at a local venue several times, you know what to expect when you walk in and in your mind the venue will always look the same aside from table decorations.  What if I said that your venue could be completely transformed by using elements like fabric draping and uplighting?  These elements will add a touch of personality and flair to your event, making it stand out from other events that guests have attended there. Adding decor elements such as draping and lighting gives your event a personal touch and will stand out in your photos. Before you meet with your decor vendor, discuss the limitations of your venue space with your wedding coordinator or site coordinator. This is to ensure that you are allowed to either use staples, tape or nails etc on the walls of the venue. Otherwise you will have to use pipe and draping around the perimeter of the room so that nothing is physically attached to the walls. You will also want to get the measurements of the venue space so that you can accurately get a quote for the draping panels and determine how many up-lights you would need to achieve the look you are going for.

You may have seen a previous post about my own wedding at the Card Center in Chico, where the talented WeDo Designs and Lisa's Flor Decor absolutely transformed the room by using draping and uplighting.  In case you missed it, here is the before and after pictures: CardCenterBefore&After

WeDo Designs recently used draping at the Elks Lodge in Chico and transformed the outdoor space.  The vivid colors caught the guests eyes and tied in the walk way with the rest of the event space.

draping elks lodge

For an indoor ceremony setting, jaws would certainly drop with this dramatic ceremony entrance! ceremony draping Image courtesy of

Pin spot lighting on the cake, and uplighting throughout the reception hall adds a very rich element to the overall atmosphere.

St_Paul_Hotel_2_low_res Image Courtesy of

I also recommend saving some images that you find inspiring and showing them to your planner and or decor vendor so that you can give them an idea of the look you are going for. Just remember, the options are endless and don't be afraid to step outside the box and show your personality!

Happy Planning!

Throw the Ultimate Bridal Shower

Bridal Showers are a fun event to throw because let's face it you mix a little champagne with some pre-wedding excitement and everyone has a good time!  Besides, the design options are endless so get creative with your theme.  Note:  You do not have to stick with the colors the bride has chosen for the wedding! I consider the bridal shower as an event that the bride really shouldn't really have to much input it other than the guess list.  She has enough on her plate with the wedding, so let this be something that even she will be surprised when she walks in!  However, if your bride to be is very hands on, this approach may not work so play it safe if need be.

Suggestion: Contact a local wedding coordinator if you need assistance getting organized or getting vendor suggestions for  food, rentals (such as tables, chairs, linens) or even fun favors!  

1. Decor  Choose a playful or glam color scheme with fun pops of color or textures.  Save yourself time by finding coordinating paperie/decor packages that include invitations, banners or signage.

Minted's "Wildflowers" theme uses graphic prints and an understated color palette which allows you to throw in mixed textures and metallics for accents.

Wildflowers Party Decor - $1.70 from: Minted

You can mix textures like glittered champagne flutes to add a little sparkle. Catch the How-To Project on DIY Champagne flutes here.   Original_Farima-Alavi-glitter-champagne-flute-step-2_s4x3_lg


Create a simple floral arrangement and spruce it up by adding the glitter element on a variety of glassware.

Photo Credit:

"Botanical Wreath" Mixes a variety of colors which gives you a lot of options for decor. You could easily choose a cream or blush linen to keep it light, or add a hint of formality with a black linen. Botanical Wreath Party Decor - $1.70 from: Minted

Botanical Wreath Circle Garlands - $1.70 from: Minted Botanical Wreath Table Signs - $1.70 from: Minted

2. Refreshments Lets face it, a party just isn't a party without yummy treats!  Depending on the time you plan on starting the event, you can choose to serve light refreshments, heavy hors d'oeuvres or a full meal/dinner.  We found a few inspirational ideas: powdered-donuts-with-rings-for-bridal-shower-sweets CocktailRollerPlatterSmall-582x313 meatballs



Photo Credits: www.Bridal Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Photo Credit:

3. Entertainment

Choose the entertainment based on the group, usually a couple of games will get the party going and the crowd to mix. Bridal Shower Bingo Exclusive Personalized Things in a Bride's Purse Game Exclusive Personalized Why Do We Do That Game

If you know the bride well, and want to create a little spicier of a party: Ask the guests to each bring a pair of panties (you can call each guest and tell them what size the bride is and explain the game) so that the bride will have to guess who brought what, and turn a few shades red.. Panty Game Check out this blog post from "Skip to the Details" where we found the game (it looked like a fun bridal shower!)

There you have it, the bride will be sure to remember this day as a time when her friends and family threw her a kick *** party!  Send the bride home with some treats, and of course the list of who gifted what so that she can get started on those thank you cards!

Happy Planning! Related Articles: 50's Theme Bridal Showers

************************ Affiliate Disclosure: The 530 Bride is a member of Minted Affiliate Marketing and may receive compensation for products purchased via links on our site.

What's in your wedding day bag?

bride_bag_contents We have all read in the wedding magazines about some of the bloopers that have gone down at a wedding, as simple as someone stepping on the back of your gown and ripping the bustle or maybe the waterproof mascara wasn't all that it was promised to be.  Either way, being prepared is never a bad thing.

I don't like the term "Emergency Kit" for a wedding because it reminds me of the jumper cables and flash light that you keep in your trunk, rather than something to ease your mind on such a big day.

The list of what items are wedding day worthy may seem excessive to some, but could come in handy depending on the circumstance.  I would say the following items are the basics, so we will start with those:

  • Extra Copies of toasts, ceremony information, seating arrangement etc (Just in case)
  • Brides Make-up Bag
  • Mini Sewing Kit
  • Snacks
  • Super Glue
  • Bandaids
  • Pair of flats
  • Deodorant
  • Rubber Bands/Hair Ties/Bobby Pins
  • Wet Wipes/Towelettes
  • Stain Remover Pen or Wipes
  • Dental Floss
  • Tums, Excedrin etc
  • Pack of Tissues

Now here are some items that are also helpful but could be brought in a separate bag or brought by a member of the wedding party if needed:

  • Extra contact list of wedding party, and essential vendors
  • Extra phone charger
  • Sun Block & Bug Spray (good idea for an outdoor setting)
  • Lighters (Keep those candles burning!)
  • Bottles of water
  • Ipod/Music with player
  • Double Sided Tape
  • Safety Pins
  • Plastic Bags for belongings or even for trash bag
  • Tampons
  • Compact Mirror
  • Small amount of cash (just in case)
  • Extra Hair Products
  • Nail File

The good news is that you will be surrounded by your friends and family on your big day, so they will be there to help should you need anything. So pack your day of bag and as always, Happy Planning!

Photo Credit:

The Big Question

The big question isn't "To be, or not to be" it is "Will you be my Maid of Honor?." This question shouldn't be taken lightly and you can't just ask anyone now can you.. it's sort of a big deal. Sure, you know who you want to have as your maid of honor, but have you considered how you want to ask or maybe you feel that it is a unspoken understanding that if and when you walk down that aisle, your bestie will be right beside you along the way. Either way we think we have found some pretty cute ways to ask:

1. Come right out and ask with a card The Big Question : Wild Strawberry Designed by Eleanor Grosch from: Shutterfly, Inc.

Stylish Request : Bay Designed by Tallu-lah from: Shutterfly, Inc.

2. Put a frame on it Maybe you don't have to ask, it is just a given.. place your fav photo here

Personalized Maid of Honor Frame from: Koyal Wholesale

3.  Pop the question Will you be my

Pop up Message from Etsy


See other articles on Will You be My Maid? 17 Fun Ways to Ask...

More products on Etsy

Propose to your bridesmaids

Floral Inspirations to Spring For!

Choosing your floral arrangements can be a little overwhelming, but sometimes all it takes is the right mix of color or textures to get you inspired.   Here are a few designs to put some spring in your step when working on your wedding to-do list. 1.  Ombre Floral Centerpiece - Green Wedding Shoes Blog

Ombre Centerpiece

2: Keep It Simple - French Wedding - Style Me Pretty


3.  Stunningly Budget Friendly - Astilbe The Wedding Flower Spring Flowers

4. Pretty In Peach - Want That Wedding peach

4. Spring Inspired Succulent Bouquet - Aileen Tran Events Rustic-vintage-bouquet2

5. A Bouquet that Pops! spring wedding bouquets, spring wedding bouquet, wedding bouquet

Custom Shapes For Your Cards at Zazzle

'I Do' Responsibly

Drink Station Weddings are a time we bring friends and family together to celebrate your new chapter in life, so unless you have chosen to have a "dry wedding" odds are there will be a champagne toast and then some!  You can choose to serve drinks during either the cocktail hour, reception or both.

When deciding on what types of beverages to serve, consider your guests, budget, and the type of atmosphere you want to have. If you are concerned with over indulgence or expense considering limiting the amount of alcohol per guests, or perhaps only offering beer and wine.

Many wedding venues will specify their requirements and limitations with serving alcohol, some may require a licensed bartender, event insurance, and/or an additional deposit. Some may allow you to supply your own alcohol, while others may not.  If you are supplying your own alcohol but don't know how much you need, try the Bevmo Calculator

We recommend hiring a licensed and insured bar service to host your event as they are not only great bartenders but they specialize in weddings and events and know how to determine when someone has had too much to drink.  They can discreetly handle this for you without causing a scene, and in the end will help ensure everyone has a safe but responsible evening.  A professional bar service will also assist you with selecting wines & spirits as well as the quantity needed for the size of your event. For help choosing a Bar Service in the 530 area, visit our directory.

When it comes to the end of the night (your wedding night is a blur so take care of these details ahead of time) have a transportation plan in place.  If your location is a distance from town consider a shuttle for larger groups.  Make sure that you discuss vehicles and over-night parking with your venue, you don't want any guests to have their cars towed!

Cheers to an amazing wedding night, and to celebrating responsibly!

~Happy Planning!~

Get The Word Out

At a time of year when many couples are celebrating their engagement, many are looking for fun ways to announce their news & their date to their immediate friends and family.  Call us old fashioned but Facebook just doesn't cut it! Depending on the length of your engagement you can opt for an engagement announcement, save the date card, or even a wedding announcement if you chose to elope and want to announce the nuptials.

Here are a few cute ways to spread the news!

Charming Chalkboard Save the Date Cards

Our Love Story Save the Date Minibook™ Cards

Wood Carving Save the Date Cards

Stache + Kiss Save the Date Cards

Engaged Engagement Party Invitations

E is for Engaged Engagement Party Invitations

Darling Deuce

Finally Engaged

Keep in mind, announcements like these do not have to correspond with your wedding theme as you may not have even defined what your theme is yet at this stage of the game.  If you already have your theme in mind, or would like to create one from scratch and want to work with a local designer you can head over to The Idea Emporium and get started on branding your wedding!

__________________________________________ **Disclosure: The530Bride is an affiliate of and, we only list and recommend products and services from companies that we have personally used and believe are a good fit for our readers.  We may receive a commission from products purchased directly from sponsored posts.  For more information please contact us.