Rustic Glam Wedding Inspiration

Rustic Glam Wedding Inspiration

I'm really loving the rustic glam look lately.  There is something about pairing a natural rustic look with touches of glam.  This is the perfect way to dress up a rustic wedding.  Sometimes a bride might be leaning towards a rustic wedding, but is afraid it might come off as too casual - but not in this case.  This has the perfect amount of glam to make this wedding absolutely gorgeous!  Set the stage for a wedding your guests will never forget.

Invitation Suite by Charming Tree Design

Invitation Suite by Charming Tree Design

Complete this look with our rustic glam wedding invitation suite. The natural branches along with the plum and gold metallic touches set the stage for a beautiful rustic glam wedding your guests won't want to miss.

CREDITS:  
DRESS// Mariee Bridal  CAKE// Designer: Frosted Flour, Photographer: K. Stone Photography  VENUE// Magnolia Weddings INVITATIONS// Charming Tree Design  BRIDESMAIDS// MNC Photography

Bridesmaid Gifts for Your Girls!

Gifts Your Bridesmaids Will Love

I searched Pinterest to find the best gifts I could find.  I would LOVE to receive any and all of these gifts from the bride… When it comes to bridesmaid gifts, you want something memorable, pretty and fun, and I think I found that in each and every one of these gifts!  

"Hello Lovely" Tote Bag

What girl doesn’t like a tote bag?  Especially one as pretty as this!  Give your bridesmaids a gift that they can use over and over again...

You can find out more about this product by clicking here!

Tote Bag by All Parris Chic Boutique

Tote Bag by All Parris Chic Boutique

Bridesmaid Giftbox

This is a perfect way to ask your girls to be a bridesmaid...or to simply thank them for being part of your special day.

You can find out more about this product by clicking here!

The Bridesmaids Gift Box by Foxblossom Co.

The Bridesmaids Gift Box by Foxblossom Co.

Personalized Stemless Flutes

I love the hand lettering on these, so beautiful!  Gifts with personalization are so special, and these are no exception!

You can find out more about this product by clicking here!

Personalized Stemless Flutes by Foxblossom Co.

Personalized Stemless Flutes by Foxblossom Co.


Pink Floral Posy Robes

Give your bridesmaids a memorable gift, and something they can use again and again… Do I have to mention these are absolutely gorgeous?!

You can find out more about this product by clicking here!

Robes by Silkandmore

Robes by Silkandmore


Personalized Hangers

What a wonderful keepsake gift!  I absolutely love the look of these… so beautiful.

You can find out more about this product by clicking here!

Personalized Hangers by Foxblossom Co.

Personalized Hangers by Foxblossom Co.


Earrings

What girl doesn’t love jewelry?  These gold halo post earrings will look stunning on your bridesmaids!

You can find out more about this product by clicking here!

Earrings by For the Maids

Earrings by For the Maids


I hope this gives you some ideas of what you can get your bridesmaids.  Even if these specific things aren't what you had in mind, there are so many other great gifts on the websites that are linked within this post.  Be sure to check them all out!

Blushing Neutral Wedding Inspiration

Inspiration for your romantic wedding!  Blush + Ivory + Taupe

I'm in love with this blushing neutral color palette!  From the perfectly picked flowers to the "love" cake topper, this dreamy wedding is at the top of my list.

I love the pops of blush that compliment the ivory and taupe.  It creates such a romantic setting that your guests will be sure to love.

Invitation Suite by Charming Tree Design

Invitation Suite by Charming Tree Design

Complete this look with our ever so romantic wedding invitation suite. The soft colors used throughout along with the beautiful calligraphy will set the stage for an ultra romantic wedding that your guests won't want to miss.

CREDITS:  
DRESS// Naomi Neoh  CAKE// Designer: BoCakes, Photographer: William Innes Photography  VENUE// Cedar Creek Barn, Photographer: Heather Roth Fine Art Photography  INVITATIONS// Charming Tree Design  FLOWERS// Scarlett and Violet, Photographer: Marianne Taylor Photography

Honeymoon Planning Tips to Make the Process Easier

Honeymoon Planning Tips to Make the Process Easier

Today I have a special guest on the blog.  Michele Botnick is a certified destination wedding & honeymoon planning specialist.  Here are her tips to make planning your honeymoon easier!  

Michele recently released an e-book all about planning your wedding - I highly encourage you to download it.  I am happy to be a contributor in the invitation section!  You can download it here.

Planning a honeymoon can be confusing with all of the options available. Are you finding it difficult to put together a travel package that is the right one for you? Trying to piece together a package? Waiting on hold to speak to someone so you can ask questions? There is a much easier way to go about the process. Here are my top 3 honeymoon planning tips for you.

Plan ahead. The best time frame to start the planning process is 5-6 months before your honeymoon travel dates. Planning ahead will make sure that your romance travel specialist or honeymoon planner will be able to help you select the best destination and resort for you, and will get you the best price possible.

Set a realistic budget. Dreaming of an all inclusive 4 star resort in the Caribbean with an ocean view room on the beach? You will not be able to book a honeymoon package like this for $2,000. The average daily cost of a honeymoon at an all inclusive resort is $300 – $450 per person (price varies based on time of year, property amenities offered, and level of accommodations selected). This price does not include airfare, and the further you have to travel to your honeymoon destination the greater the airfare cost. You can get significant cost savings when booking a honeymoon package the includes your accommodations and airfare together; work with your honeymoon travel specialist to get the best price possible.

Be flexible. There are ways you can save, and plan the honeymoon you always dreamed about to that tropical and romantic destination. It requires you to be flexible, and to be willing to give up some of your ‘must haves’. Make a list of the things that you want included in your honeymoon package (ocean front room, private plunge pool, candlelight dinner on the beach, 7 night stay, special activities, etc.), then consider which of those you would be willing to give up to book your honeymoon. Your honeymoon travel specialist will work hard to get you the best package possible that includes as many of your ‘wants’, and will make specific recommendations to help you.

Lucky n Love Travel is a full service travel specialist that works with clever couples to plan a romantic customized honeymoon package or the destination wedding of their dreams. Michele Botnick is the owner, and a certified destination wedding & honeymoon planning specialist. Her mission is simple; to help couples just starting their life together create a lifetime of beautiful memories through travel.

Printing Options For Your Wedding Invitations

The Pros and cons of the most popular printing Techniques for your wedding invitations and stationery

With so many printing options available, it may be hard to know which technique is best for your wedding invitations and stationery.  After working in the print and design industry for over 15 years, I’ve become pretty familiar with the different options available.  I’ve put together this guide to help you understand some of my favorite printing techniques.  If you want to read all about each process and get to know the pros and cons of each technique, keep reading!

Digital Printing

Digital printing is the latest technology in the print world.  With this type of printing, you’ll get a quick turnaround along with the best print quality for graphics, text and photographs at the most competitive prices.  No plates are required and there is hardly any set up.  The digital file is sent, and is then printed by depositing toner onto a wide variety of substrates including paper, metal, glass, canvas and other materials.

Pros:

  • great quality
  • can print multiple colors at once
  • cost effective for small runs
  • it’s fast - works good for tight-deadlines

Cons:

  • unable to match Pantone colors
  • not as cost effective for high quantity runs

Flat Offset Printing

Offset Printing is a commonly used printing technique in which the inked image is transferred (or “offset”) from a plate to a rubber blanket, then to the printing surface.  One of the biggest disadvantages to this method is the time and cost associated with producing plates and printing press setup.  Although it’s more expensive, matching exact colors is possible, and the quality is very good.

Pros:

  • prints colors exactly how they should appear
  • cost effective for high runs
  • better image quality

Cons:  

  • expensive
  • more time is required than it is for digital printing
  • setup is time consuming
  • not as cost effective for small runs

Letterpress

This is such a lovely way to print invitations, greeting cards and stationery.  Letterpress is the oldest traditional printing technique.  First, the digital design is output to a film as a negative, and then exposed to a polymer plate using UV light.  Then the ink is mixed by hand, often trying to match a Pantone color.  Pantone is a color matching system printers use to get an accurate match of a certain color.  When it’s time to print, the carefully chosen paper is fed one at a time into the press.  A slight debossing effect is left where the ink has been laid.  Blind debossing is where no ink is used, and is purely used for it’s debossing effect.

Paper stock is an important part of letterpress.  Typically heavyweight or richly textured paper is chosen to compliment the debossing effect.

Letterpress Wedding Invitation Suite by Chatham and Caron
Letterpress Invitation Suite by Cocorico

Letterpress Invitation Suite by Cocorico

Pros:

  • luxurious feel and look
  • very elegant and beautiful
  • heavily textured and thick stock

Cons:

  • usually prints only 1 to 2 colors at most
  • expensive
  • not ideal for large solid color areas
  • 2 week turn-around - longer than most printing techniques

Foil Stamping  

This is the process of applying metallic or colored foil onto paper.  The process involves stamping a heated die to seal a thin layer of foil to the paper.  Foil stamping is somewhat similar to letterpress and engraving, in that the color is applied to paper with pressure.

Pros:

  • the only way to achieve a vibrant and opaque metallic effect
  • you can use a dark paper with lighter text
  • luxurious feel and look

Cons:

  • usually 1 color foil at most
  • expensive because it is a labor intensive process

Engraving:  

This is the most classic way to print your wedding invitations.  Engraving is very similar to letterpress, except the text is embossed to create a raised effect.  It is typically reserved for very formal events.

Engraved Wedding Invitation

Engraved Wedding Invitation

Pros:  

  • very beautiful
  • timeless
  • traditionally simple designs
  • works well with fine text
  • great option for white ink on colored paper

Cons:

  • expensive
  • long turnaround times
  • not ideal if the invitation has more than 2 colors

Thermography:

This is a less expensive option that achieves a similar effect as engraving.  The process uses a powder and special ink that creates a raised effect when it dries. This is an affordable option if you want fancy invitations with a quick turnaround.

Pros:

  • produces a similar effect to engraving but for a fraction of the cost

Cons:

  • not ideal if the invitation has more than 2 colors
  • the raised ink has a rubbery feel

I hope this gives you a better understanding of what printing techniques are available for your invitations.  Choosing a printing method really comes down to what your design looks like and what impression you hope to give your guests.  If you have any questions about what technique would be best for your own invitation, please get in touch!  I would be happy to discuss all of the options available and help you choose the best way to print your invitations.

The Bride's Ultimate Guide to Wedding Stationery

Your ultimate guide to choosing invitations - a break down of what you can and can't go without when it comes to stationery - some questions about etiquette - and accessories to consider.

I created this guide to walk you through the process of picking out your invitations, keep you on track with a timeline and give you some tips on etiquette.  The biggest thing I want for you, is to walk away feeling confident when you go to make your choices about your wedding stationery.  Ready to get started?  Let's go!

First things first!  When you first think of wedding stationery, what comes to mind?  Most likely it’s the invitations.  Obviously you know that these are definitely necessary, but what about the save the dates or the programs?  Take a look below to see what is necessary versus what is nice to have...

Wedding invitation suite

Can’t go without

  • Wedding Invitations
  • Wedding Thank You Notes
  • Bridal Shower Invitations
  • Bridal Shower Thank You Notes
  • Bachelorette/Bachelor Party Invitations
  • Table Numbers
  • Escort Cards or Seating Chart

Nice to have

  • Engagement Party Invitation
  • Save the Dates
  • Ceremony Program
  • Menu Cards
  • Calligraphy
  • Vintage Stamps

What’s your style? 

Think for a minute about what you want in an invitation.  The first step is to decide what style you’d like.  Is your wedding rustic, classic or vintage?  Your invitations are the first impression your guests will get of your wedding, so you want to make sure everything coordinates with the overall look and feel you are going for.

Will you go with semi-custom or custom invitations?  I’d take a look at the semi-custom invitations first to see what is available and to get an idea for what you like.  If you don’t see what you are looking for or if you want something very specific, working with a designer on a custom invitation will probably be your best bet.  Remember, when you are looking at invitations, it’s just as important to take note of what you don’t like.  If you decide to go the custom route, this will help your designer know what styles to stay away from.

Next up, think about if you want simple or fancy.  Invitations can be as simple as the 3 main pieces - the invitation, RSVP card and envelopes.  If you’d like, you can also get all fancy with folders, backings, wax seals and ribbon.  The choice is completely yours.  Charming Tree offers the same suite in three different versions so you can pick and choose which one best fits your needs and budget.  I've carefully picked things that go well together so you don't have to worry about building the suite from scratch.  I do this to eliminate the bride from feeling overwhelmed at making a decision.

Options to Consider

Pocketfolders, Belly Bands, Monogram Squares, Wax Seals, Ribbons, Vintage Stamps, Calligraphy, Envelope Liners

Before you get overwhelmed, remember that just because there are many options, doesn’t mean you have to include them to create a great invitation.  Invitations can be as simple or complex as you’d like them to be.  If you’ve got an eye for design, you can pick everything out yourself or if you don’t want any part in the design process you can let a professional do all the work for you.  

I make this process as simple as possible for the brides I work with.  All you have to do is choose which design and package you want from my shop and then we can add on any extras at the end if you’d like.  You can change colors, fonts, and wording if you’d like, OR you can just keep it exactly the way it is.  For those who want something very specific or original, I offer custom invitations as well.  Here is a sample of what my packages include so you can get an idea of what things go well together.

Wedding Stationery Suite

//GOLD PACKAGE//
Invitation with matching envelopes
Response card with matching envelopes
Enclosure card (choose one: accommodations, details, reception card, etc.)

//PLATINUM PACKAGE//
Invitation with matching envelopes
Response card with matching envelopes
Enclosure card (choose one: accommodations, details, reception card, etc.)

Additional features included with the Platinum Package: 
Backing layer to go on invitation
Belly band with monogram square
Envelope liner for invitation envelopes

//DIAMOND PACKAGE//
Invitation with matching envelopes
Response card with matching envelopes
Enclosure Card (choose one: accommodations, details, reception card, etc.)
Belly band with monogram square
Envelope liner for invitation envelopes

Additional features included with the Diamond Package: 
Pocketfolder to mount your invitation and hold your inserts


charming tree welcome packet
 

Charming Tree Design Welcome Packet

I've put together a welcome packet to help guide you though ordering your invitations.  This gives you an overview of the process, my prices, a color chart for paper and ink options and more!  Click on the link to download the packet!


Let’s Talk Etiquette

Here are some common questions I get regarding wedding stationery.

Are save the dates necessary and when do I send them out?

While they are never necessary, they are very helpful for guests especially those who will have to travel for your wedding day.  I’d send out save the dates around 6 months before the wedding.

When do I need to send my invitations out?

Invitations are sent out at least 6-8 weeks before your wedding. 

When should the reply deadline be?  

It’s recommended that the RSVP deadline is 3-4 weeks before your wedding date.  This will allow plenty of time to get ahold of any people who didn’t respond, and also create your seating chart or escort cards.   

Is it ok to include registry information on my invitations or save the dates?  

Wedding invitations should not include the registry info as it will look like you are asking for gifts.  You can however add your wedding website to your save the dates and include your registry info on your website.

What information must I include on my invitation?

You’ll want to include who is getting married, the time and date, and where the wedding will take place.  Keep it short and sweet, as you can add the rest of the information to the insert cards.  You’ll also want to include the names of those hosting.  If your parents or others are paying for a portion of the wedding, it’s important that they are also on the invitation.

Should you put RSVP info on the invitation itself?  

I wouldn’t do it.  The purpose of a RSVP card is to make it convenient for your guests to reply.  When you provide a card for them to mail back, it makes it very easy to fill out and drop in the mail.  

Can I put the reception info on the bottom of the invitation?

If the reception is at the same location as the ceremony, I don’t see anything wrong with having a short sentence at the bottom such as “dinner and dancing to follow immediately”.  I have done many invitations where the reception info is at the bottom.  However, if there is a lot of information, I recommend a separate card for the reception info.

Next steps...

If you are ready to get started on your stationery, I'd love to set up a free consultation with you.  We can discuss all of your wedding stationery needs over the phone or email.  I'd love to be a part of your day!  Click below to set up a consultation today!

Four Most Unique Wedding Venues

Discover some of the most unique wedding venues in the world and start Planning Your destination wedding.

When you are planning a wedding the venue is one of the most important parts of the wedding. Your venue represents your style and taste as a couple. I have narrowed the list down to 4 of the most unique wedding venues in the United States.

The first on the list is Haiku Mill in Maui, Hawaii. This place was once a sugar plantation, but to look at it now you wouldn’t know it. Beautiful vines and chandeliers hang around the dining areas that give it a romantic feel! This romantic place even comes with its own perfume as jasmine and gardenias surround the property. 

Jana Dillon Photography

Jana Dillon Photography

One of the most unique and romantic places on this list is Tree house point in Issaquah, Washington. If you have dreamed of an outdoor wedding, than this is the place for you! This place has grand tree houses built into the treetops of the forest. Imagine the photographs you could get coming down the staircases in the middle of the forest. Your white gown against the greenery would make some unique photographs. Another great feature about this place is that you can stay overnight here. Can you imagine spending the night with your love above the tree tops?

Amanda Lloyd of Lloyd Photography

Amanda Lloyd of Lloyd Photography

Another place that makes it on the list is Union Hill Inn in Sonora, California. If you love rustic then this is your place. This place has a sweet charm about it that would please every bride and groom. A unique feature about this place is that it has a beautiful fireplace outside that makes a great spot for your pictures. Since this place isn’t that far from Lake Tahoe, you could be very close to a beautiful honeymoon spot right over the water!

Would you like to get married on top of the world? This last venue on the list is Malibu Rocky Oaks in Malibu, California and it is amazing! The view alone of the Santa Monica Mountains would be worth the flight out there. Just imagine a full 360 degree view of the mountains as you are getting married. The ceremony takes place on a helipad, surrounded by vineyards, and the tables are lined to overlook the mountain side. On your wedding day you should feel like you are on top of the world so why not actually be?

I hope that this list helps you find a unique venue that suits you. Whether you want a rustic wedding, an exotic wedding, or a wedding in the treetops your day will be special no matter what! 

Written and composed by Tabitha Paganelli

Are you looking for invitations for your big day?  Did you know that Charming Tree Design offers a full line of beautiful wedding invitations and day of stationery?  Click here to take a look at what we have to offer.  Custom designs are also available, get more info by clicking here.

Romantic Honeymoon Destinations Abroad

Discover some of the most Romantic Honeymoon Destinations Abroad.  Start planning your honeymoon today.

Romantic and honeymoon almost always go together. Every bride wants a romantic honeymoon with the one she loves. Maybe this list will give you some great ideas on some of the most romantic places abroad.

First on the list is Venice, Italy, known for its gondola rides through the Grand Canal as you take in the historic buildings. You can also take a boat ride to an island nearby and site see more privately. Venice is also known for its unique seafood dishes such as squid-ink pasta.

Venice, Italy

Venice, Italy

Next is Paris, France, which most likely makes it on every romantic honeymoon list, but what isn’t to love about the place. The Eiffel tower, the cobble stone streets, and the food are amazing! You could easily splurge on a honeymoon package and have everything planned out for 1,000 including your eats. 

Paris, France

Paris, France

Another great place to honeymoon is Harbour Island, Bahamas. You can stay in the one room suites that are right on the water. Each suite is private and perfect for a honeymoon. There are plenty of souvenir places to browse to bring back something memorable for your family or a keepsake for yourself! 

Harbour Island, Bahamas

Harbour Island, Bahamas

Another great place that makes the list is Santorini, Greece. This volcanic island is known for its beautiful scenery and villas. You can spend several hours on the black-sand beaches, sample the wine at wineries, or explore the ancient history sites. This is the place if you want a more adventurous honeymoon with your spouse. 

Santorini, Greece

Santorini, Greece

The last place on the list is Aruba also named “One Happy Place”. The pure white sandy beaches stay warm year round. It is also a very popular place for crystal clear water and snorkeling! If you are into gambling there is a 15,000 square foot casino just waiting for you. 

Aruba

Aruba

I hope that this list can give you some ideas on places to honeymoon if you choose to honeymoon abroad. A honeymoon is meant to be a special time for the new couple and I’m sure any place you choose will be romantic!

Written and composed by Tabitha Paganelli

Are you looking for invitations for your big day?  Did you know that Charming Tree Design offers a full line of beautiful wedding invitations and day of stationery?  Click here to take a look at what we have to offer.  Custom designs are also available, get more info by clicking here.

Top 4 Wedding Gown Designers

When you think of weddings usually the wedding gown is the first thing that comes to your mind. What we do not usually think of are the people who design the gowns. Some designers create all kinds of styles, while some focus solely on one style. Maybe this list will give you some insight into the top designers.

Do you know who some of the Top Four Wedding Gown Designers are?  Read this to find out more!

The first designer is Vera Wang. She has been the top wedding designer for many years now. She has designed bridal gowns for popular movie stars, the first lady, and for all of us ladies. She has such a unique collection that you can purchase certain wedding gowns in the color black. 

The next on the list is Angel Sanchez. This incredibly talented designer has even gone as far to hand paint the newest wedding gown collection. He is known to mix bold colors with soft ruffles. He is also known to think out of the box for many of his collections. No two are alike when it comes to this designer. Most of his gowns are also made to wear. 

Another lady that is notable in the designer world is Carolina Herrera. This woman is known for the simplicity and elegance of her gowns. It has been said that she has dressed the first ladies beginning with Jacqueline Kennedy to Michelle Obama. Mrs. Herrera has won many awards for her gowns, including designer of the year. If you are looking for a very simple, but extremely elegant gown I believe that this is your designer.

The last on our list is Reem Acra known for her simplicity and signature beadwork done on each gown. She designed a ready to wear line in 1997, which took off and never slowed down. Even the royal families from many different countries contacted her to design their special gown. 

There are so many more excellent designers in the world, but these are just a few that are on top for their uniqueness that they bring to each gown they design. Whether you decide you want a unique - one of a kind dress, or a ready - made dress at David’s Bridal you will be a beautiful bride in your gown.

Written and composed by Tabitha Paganelli

Are you looking for invitations for your big day?  Did you know that Charming Tree Design offers a full line of beautiful wedding invitations and day of stationery?  Click here to take a look at what we have to offer.  Custom designs are also available, get more info by clicking here.

Vera Wang

Vera Wang

Angel Sanchez

Angel Sanchez

Carolina Herrera

Carolina Herrera

Reem Acra

Reem Acra

Top Tips to Fit into Your Wedding Dress

One of the most stressful parts of planning the wedding is figuring out how to achieve the body that you desire. As a woman, we all want to be thinner for that big day; it's in our nature. Well at least I sure do and I know my entire group of friends were like that as well. I am about to share my top tips on achieving your dream body for your dream day! 

Here are some of the best tips for trying to lose weight and get in shape before your wedding day.  

Cut the carbs and replace them- I know I know, this is the hardest thing ever. Carbs are in practically everything these days and they are so hard to cut out, but it is VERY possible. Before I replaced my carbs, I didn't realize how absolutely delicious carb free food could be. I do small things such as replacing angel hair pasta with spaghetti squash. I can then have guilt free spaghetti. Also, I make cauliflower crust for my pizza and never feel like I overindulged after 6 slices. Once you cut carbs you will notice your waistline thinning and you will feel much better throughout your day.

Get rid of all of the sweets in your house, and don't even buy them for your fiance or children. I know this one is hard because everyone has to pay for your beauty, but if they love you, they will do it. Well, thats what I told my fiance at the time, and it worked. We got rid of every cookie in our house (which if you know me, you know how hard this was), and I bought zero sweets until the wedding day passed. And unfortunately, I went back to sweets. This method is NOT a long term one like cutting carbs. 

DO NOT HAVE CHEAT DAYS!!! This is the single most helpful tip that I can give you. Everyone always says when you are trying to get in shape, "have cheat days on the weekends". Unfortunately, all that does is tease you, and often gets you back into indulging in the bad habit that you are trying to avoid. Therefore, avoid the cheat days all together. Think about your end goal and you will get through it. 

Cut back on drinking soda as much as possible. This was the absolutely, hands down, hardest nutrition goal of mine. I am what you call a soda addict, and I cannot help but drink at least one a day, most days more. Months before my wedding I cut out the soda, and I seriously noticed a huge impact in my thirst patterns. I was no longer thirsty all of the time, I had more energy, and I was overall just more hydrated and ready for what life threw at me. I attribute this to the water because it is the one thing that I continued to do once the wedding was over, and the feeling of energy is fulfillment are still there.

Develop a quick workout that you can do even on your busiest days, and from anywhere you go. As someone who travels full time, I have to have a routine that can be done in forests, on the beach, and most importantly, in our home. Therefore, I have put together a routine I can do even on my busiest days of the week. I have put together a 10 minute yoga routine that was meant to tighten and tone my stomach, and man has it done the trick. 

These are some of my best kept secrets on how I fit into my wedding dress, toned my body, and set myself up for living a happy, healthy marriage. Many of the tricks stuck with me after the wedding was over, and they shaped my lifestyle into what it is today. Trust me when I say that the first week is the hardest. You are replacing your food, your drinks, and even working out now. This is a very hard change to make, but when you think about the end result, it will make it easier. Just think about walking down the aisle and your cousins who haven't seen you in three years will "oohh" and " ahhh" over how stunning you look. I know its hard, but you can do it! 

Written and composed by Tabitha Paganelli

Are you looking for invitations for your big day?  Did you know that Charming Tree Design offers a full line of beautiful wedding invitations and day of stationery?  Click here to take a look at what we have to offer.  Custom designs are also available, get more info by clicking here.

Trending Color Palettes for a Winter Wedding

Here are the top trending color palettes for a winter wedding

Winter is not only a cozy and chilly time of year, but its great for having a wedding. Although it is the least popular time of the year for weddings, it is my personal favorite time of the year for weddings. 

1.Plum, green, and white- The plum is the center color of this palette and it really gives that warm and cozy winter feeling. The green really helps bring the season colors out, as you always see green during the holiday season and throughout winter. The white is a great accent color to make sure its not too dark and it just brings everything together. 

Wedding inspiration shoot from Onelove Photography

Wedding inspiration shoot from Onelove Photography

 

2. Taupe, brown and white- This is the most neutral winter palette I have found, and it's perfect for the simplistic bride. The colors help match well with any decor that you may find and gives that simple winter look.

Venue - Julia Morgan Ballroom | Chairs and Rentals - Hartmann Studios

Venue - Julia Morgan Ballroom | Chairs and Rentals - Hartmann Studios

3. Burgundy and green- Burgundy is one of the most requested colors for winter weddings, but pairing it with green makes it the perfect winter combination. The colors not only give a great "holiday vibe", but it also gives that warm winter feeling to all of your guests.

4. Grey, rose, and white- This is a palete that I personally love, and it is great for the couple that wants a neutral wedding but also great for someone that wants a good pop of color also. The dusty rose color gives it a pop of color while also keeping it warm for the winter feeling.

Style me pretty - Photography:Christie Graham Photography | Creative Direction:Love of Fair | Floral Design:Special Moments

Style me pretty - Photography:Christie Graham Photography | Creative Direction:Love of Fair | Floral Design:Special Moments

5. Plum, lavender, and green- Although you may not think to pair these colors together, they are a great match for the winter season. They help keep the feeling of the wedding warm and wintery, while also having a vibrant touch. 

Table Design by Carol rame

Table Design by Carol rame

These top 5 color palettes are essential for winter weddings. They are all inspired by the feelings that you get during the winter and the way you want your guests to feel at your winter wedding. Each of these color palettes are trending for winter weddings. 

Written and composed by Tabitha Paganelli

Are you looking for invitations for your big day?  Did you know that Charming Tree Design offers a full line of beautiful wedding invitations and day of stationery?  Click here to take a look at what we have to offer.  Custom designs are also available, get more info by clicking here.

 

Feel the Love After the Big Day

Keep the romance alive and continue to feel the love after your wedding day

The day of your wedding is a beautiful day. Your family and friends gather around you, share words of wisdom through a microphone, hug you and tell you congratulations, and post sweet sayings to your Facebook page. However, here are a few ways that you can feel the love even after your wedding day is over. 

Set up a station where guests can write their advice for you. Little cards or tags like this can be created custom to fit your wedding by a designer, or they can be found on Etsy. There are unique ways you can design them to make them unique, but no matter how unique they are, they will surely be a heart warming sentiment to have after its all said and done.  Charming Tree Design has a collection of advice cards on Etsy, you can find them here!

Charming Tree Design's Advice Card for the Bride and Groom

Charming Tree Design's Advice Card for the Bride and Groom

Put together small pieces of paper that can be rolled up or folded, a jar of some type that can be sealed, and ask for your guests to write something on it for you. On your one year anniversary, sit down together and read these notes as you eat your top layer of cake you saved and make a date out of it. You'll be surrounded by the wedding moment all over again.

DIY or order a canvas where all of your guests say write a little bit of advice for the happy couple. At my wedding, we had a canvas with various sized hearts where the guests could write to us. Afterwards, we hung it on our wall and not only could we see the words of love everyday, but our guests could read it when they visited as well. 

This one is one of my favorite ways to feel that love all over. Put together a christmas ornament making table. Have a large table with clear ornaments (you can find these at Michaels and Walmart around the holidays- buy a year early), you can get popsicle sticks, and have photographs printed, all laying out on the table. Have a sign that asks your guests to help you decorate your first christmas tree as a married couple. As your guests decorate ornaments, you will have several ornaments to hang on your christmas tree, all made with love by family. This takes the meaning of love surrounding the season to an entire new level. 

No matter what you do, the day is special. The love that your family and friends have for you is incredible, and they will be happy to share it with you on your big day!

Written and composed by Tabitha Paganelli

Are you looking for invitations for your big day?  Did you know that Charming Tree Design offers a full line of beautiful wedding invitations and day of stationery?  Click here to take a look at what we have to offer.  Custom designs are also available, get more info by clicking here.

The Wedding Day Emergency Kit

the Ultimate wedding day emergency kit - pin to reference when you put together your kit

A wedding is a special day, and that much we know. But some of us forget that just like any other day, emergencies CAN happen. Make sure you are the bride prepared for anything that could happen on your special day. I have put together a DIY emergency kit that you can have your bridesmaids help you put together, but its also so simple you can do solo! 

So before we get into the fun stuff like hair and makeup emergency items, we have to talk about the sometimes embarrassing, but always necessary items to have in your emergency kit. I have prioritized these from importance (greatest to least). 

  • Tampons/Pads
  • Pain Relievers - If you don't get a headache, someone else may!
  • Pepto-Bismol - Maybe the food doesn't agree with you, and who wants no Pepto when that happens?!
  • Deodorant 
  • Toothbrush 
  • Bug Spray - This is mostly for outdoor weddings, but if any part of the wedding or the afterparty is outdoors, you won't want to forget this
  • Band-Aids
  • Sunscreen
  • Perfume

Okay, so that is it for the super embarrassing things that are necessary in an emergency kit. Now, lets get to something a little less embarrassing, but still not as fun as hair and makeup. 

  • Sewing kit - rips have happened at nearly every wedding I've ever been to
  • Safety Pins 
  • Clear Nail Polish - I brought my entire nail polish kit for touch ups
  • Super glue - things sometimes fall apart, especially if they were DIY
  • Lint Roller - We don't want grandma walking down the aisle with fuzz all over her. Or worse, your puppy wouldn't stop jumping off of the groom once he got in his tux. Lets be prepared for puppies and lint!
  • Tide pen - Receptions can get fun and we don't think about things, but if you wanna sell that dress later or even preserve it for your daughter, you won't want red wine to be the highlight of the dress!

Okay bride to be, are you ready for the fun stuff? I am talking SUPER fun: HAIR AND MAKEUP! Woot Woot! This is my favorite part, and I am so excited to make this part of the checklist for you. 

  • Bobby pins - I can't tell you how important these are to have for the entire party
  • Extra hair ties - Even if you spent $200 on that hair do, when it comes time to dance, you may just wanna throw your hair in a ponytail!
  • Comb/Hairbrush - Those fly aways can get bad. And if you decide on a ponytail, you may need a brush or comb to make it happen!
  • Curling Iron - Humidity can totally ruin your curled hair if you aren't prepared.  Don't let your hair fall flat without a way to fix it.
  • Hairspray 
  • Foundation - sometimes it wears off after a good sweaty day
  • Powder - Great for touch ups, especially if you're in the sun
  • Blotting sheets - These are perfect for pulling the oil off of your face when you've been sweating too much. Dancing can get INTENSE!
  • Chapstick 
  • Lipgloss
  • Nail File - I seriously broke a nail at my wedding and regretted not having this!
  • Tissues - Girl, you might cry, and what's worse than ugly cry face? Ugly cry face with mascara and tears all over it. Have these to clean yourself up!
  • Mirror - A pocket mirror will do, but as long as you can check and make sure you are still put together after a good sweat, a good cry, or just to check.

This was an incredibly fun list to make. There are seriously so many things to think about when it comes down to your big day, and we often forget the little things. So I hope this checklist has helped you put together your own DIY emergency wedding kit. 

Now, if you don't time the time to put together your own DIY emergency wedding kit, I have took the time to search on Etsy and find one that is just is good (if not a teensy bit better!). You can follow the link below to find that one! 

Click here to find the kit by ThePartyGirl on Etsy!

Photo Credit: byThePartyGirl on Etsy

Photo Credit: byThePartyGirl on Etsy

Written and composed by Tabitha Paganelli

Are you looking for invitations for your big day?  Did you know that Charming Tree Design offers a full line of beautiful wedding invitations and day of stationery?  Click here to take a look at what we have to offer.  Custom designs are also available, get more info by clicking here.

How to Personalize Your Wedding

Fun ways to Personalize Your Wedding

1. Cups/Mugs- Have you seen those plastic cups that everyone has in their homes? You know, the ones that probably have a business name on them of some sorts? Well you can find those sturdy plastic cups all over the internet, but you could have the option of personalizing them! Your guests can enjoy their drinks in a personalized cup or have it as a wedding favor to take home. They'll cherish it forever.

2. You can get custom games/corn hole boards- Corn hole is a huge game that people play at weddings. If you are more of a board game person, you can even get those made just for you. Your name will be plastered in all of those candid photos your friends post playing your wedding game. 

3. Guest book- You can get gorgeous custom guest books with your name, date, and last name on them. You can customize them to your color as well. Even take one step up and have a designer create a custom guest book for you to fit your wedding. 

4. Thank you cards- Even though the wedding itself is over, leaving your mark on your guests doesn't have to be. Ditch the $5 Walmart thank you cards and have a designer create custom thank you cards with your colors, your flowers, and your names right on them. When your third cousin hangs it on her fridge, all of her friends will walk by in awe when they see how gorgeous and unique it is! 

5. Cake topper- I know this isn't a popular one, but even more reason to do it. You can find custom cake toppers all over the internet at a very reasonable price. Add in your soon to be last name and details from your wedding venue and you've got the most unique piece ever. They are high quality and will leave your guests snapping photos all day.

6.  Favor Tags-  A fun way to add a personal touch is to have custom tags created for your favors.  There are all sorts of options available on Etsy and around the internet.  Charming Tree Design has a full line of tags including some specifically for S'more Kits.  Have an idea, but can't seem to find exactly what you are looking for?  Custom designs are available as well.  Browse the collection here!

No matter what you decide to do on your wedding day, customizing the details is very easy, and very affordable.  Using Etsy, a designer, and the handy dandy internet, you can have a unique wedding that no one will forget! 

Written and composed by Tabitha Paganelli

Are you looking for invitations for your big day?  Did you know that Charming Tree Design offers a full line of beautiful wedding invitations and day of stationery?  Click here to take a look at what we have to offer.  Custom designs are also available, get more info by clicking here.

The Importance of a Wedding Photographer

learn why it's important to hire a wedding photographer

Sometimes a photographer may not be in your budget. You may have someone in your family who claims to have a cell phone and can take shots for you. Trust me, this is an important topic that you are going to want to think about. 

Photographers are expensive, however, they have put many hours into their field to gain the expertise and knowledge that you will need. Photographers are trained to take beautiful photographs for you; many photographers go to workshops, watch webinars, and go through hours of trial and error to perfect their art. 

You only get one wedding day, you will want to make sure that you have someone who is properly qualified to take the photos. Although you may find have a cousin who can do it with her cell phone for free, what happens if they forget those major shots that you need?  It's worth the investment to hire a good photographer who has done several weddings. 

If saving money is crucial for your big day, here are a few tips to save money so that you can afford beautiful photography that you can cherish forever: 

  • Look at several areas of the wedding and see where you can cut corners

  • Even having $300 can hire a slightly qualified person versus someone with no experience

  • Look on your local buy/sale/trade groups and community groups and ask for recomendations on affordable wedding photographers

  • Barter if possible. If you have a skill or service you can offer, try to reach out to photographers in the area and see if they would be interested in a trade

  • If all else fails, find someone who needs experience or is just starting out 

  • Although it won't be top notch quality, chances are, someone just starting out that charges little to nothing, will have done research and practice with photography already.  Check your local Craigslist for people.

At the end of the day, when it's all said and done all you will have is photographs and memories. Weddings are a busy occasion and we often miss so many details and things that happen because we are so caught up in the moment. Trust a photographer to capture those moments and freeze them in time. The money will be worth the forever cherished photographs you will have. 

Written and composed by Tabitha Paganelli

Are you looking for invitations for your big day?  Did you know that Charming Tree Design offers a full line of beautiful wedding invitations and day of stationery?  Click here to take a look at what we have to offer.  Custom designs are also available, get more info by clicking here.

Five Wedding Decisions To Make First

The top Five wedding decisions to make first

While the flowers, the dress, and the food are all fun topics to dive into, there are a few things that you need to decide on before you get into all of that.

A wedding has so many details, but before working out the details you need to build a solid foundation for everything to work around. Once you have these base decisions put into place, you can then decide on all of the fun things.

1. Indoor or Outdoor- One of the hardest questions for some is the one you need to ask first; do you want your wedding to be indoors or outdoors. Some ladies know that they want to do it in the church they attend, but for others, they may be on the fence between a church wedding, a barn wedding, or a beach wedding. There are so many options when it comes to this, but ultimately, it comes down to indoor or outdoor.

2. Venue- Now that you have the first big thing picked out, you need to think about venues. You may want to think about a possible budget for this, but some locations may not cost you a dime. Especially if you are having a church wedding, they just ask for a donation. Throw $100 their way and they are happy to hand over the premises for your special day. There are many different types of venues for different budgets and price ranges. It's important that you pick one that you love, but also chose one that fits the time of year and your budget as well. After all you don't want a beach wedding in December that costs half of your entire wedding budget.

3. Speaking of budget- This is the hardest part about the wedding sometimes. You need to figure out if parents are helping cover costs, what your total cost is, and then break it all down. It's helpful if you make a list of things you'd like to spend more money on and then things you don't mind being frugal on. This way, you can sit down and write out what your budget needs to be for the dress, flowers, etc. Write it all out and the actual planning part will be much easier.

4.  Theme- Decide if you want a theme for your special day. Some people do them based on the season. For example, some winter weddings do "winter wonderland", fall weddings do fall theme, etc.  Some people even do it based on movies that they love. So it's up to you if you have a theme or not, but it could really spice things up and make your wedding unique.

5. Colors- Last but not least, colors. You need to decide on what colors you want to use for the wedding so you can start thinking about flowers, decor, dresses, food display, etc.

Once you get these basic things down, you can start doing all of the fun things.  If you try to jump into the fun things first, you will keep having to go back to these basics and figure them out. So grab your notebook, grab your fiance, and write down your decisions on these 5 things, RIGHT NOW.

Download Charming Tree's wedding timeline here!  Print this out and put it in a binder to keep you on track throughout your wedding planning!  

 

Written and composed by Tabitha Paganelli

Are you looking for invitations for your big day?  Did you know that Charming Tree Design offers a full line of beautiful wedding invitations and day of stationery?  Click here to take a look at what we have to offer.  Custom designs are also available, get more info by clicking here.

Perfect Menu for Fall/Winter Weddings

From appetizers to dessert - plan your perfect menu for your fall and winter weddings

We are about to chat about a special topic that I am absolutely obsessed with, as are many others. Food

When you go to a wedding you look forward to what you are going to eat. When you go home and tell people about a wedding you attended, most times you say two things; it was beautiful, and you comment on how the food was: good or bad. We can all honestly say that we want people to walk away talking about how amazing the food was at your wedding. I've got a trick for you if you're having a fall or winter wedding. Soup and gravy. If you have these two things, you are guaranteed to win over the crowd. 

Soup and gravy are absolute must haves on a wedding menu at this time of year. As their body is shivering with chills from the cool crisp air, you give them a cup of soup or something smothered in gravy and they will warm their hearts. (pun intended) We all know that feeling; it's absolutely freezing and you eat/drink something warm and you literally warm up from head to toe. So, lets talk about some of the top food items for a fall/winter wedding. We have established the importance of soup and anything covered in gravy, but you need more than that to please your crowd. 

Lets jump right in to the best part. Or parts i should say. These can be used during cocktail hour or dessert, but if none of these are on your menu, your guests are missing out!

Hot chocolate bar - Lets be real for a second, no matter who you are, you want hot chocolate during those cold winter months. Give the people what they want!

Smore's Bar - Three tiers of trays... graham crackers, marshmallows, and Hersey's. YES!

Chocolate Pudding Shooters - Toss a dollop of whipped cream and a mini vanilla wafer and you've got yourself a dessert that everyone will love.

Assorted Cookies - We all know the ones that we got to make with Grandma every year! Yes! Those! Get some and put them on a fancy tray, and you've got goodies!

Apple cider is also a must. Seriously. A stick of cinnamon and warm cider= PERFECTION!

Now, lets talk about appetizers that are a little more versatile.

Salad Bar - Make sure you have the basics covered, and everyone is happy!

Veggie Tray - Some people are vegetarian and some just like light snacks.

Soup Shooters - You can do one type of soup or several. Tomato bisque is my personal fave!

Macaroni & Cheese - Enough said.

Asparagus - Even though some people aren't a big fan, you can WOO the people who are with some garlic butter sauce on top!

 Broccoli & cheese - Warm and cheesy, once again, perfect for the cold months

Mashed Potatoes and gravy - GRAVYY!!!

Lets chat about the main course now....

Pulled pork - No matter how you make it, warm pulled pork is just golden!

Roast  - Made with potatoes and carrots or slathered in gravy, either way, it's good.

Honey Ham - It's that time of the year, everyone loves a good honey ham.

Turkey - Smother it in gravy and you'll be amazed at how many people brag about this one to everyone after the wedding!

Italian - pasta varieties are great- lasagna, baked ziti, etc.

Mexican - Taco Bar-again, enough said!!!

Even with a main course, you need sides...

Baked potato - I can't say this enough- warm and cheesy always wins. But smothered in gravy works too. Warm and delicious is the key.

Brussel sprouts - Although everyone doesn't love it, it's a great warm choice!

Corn on the cob - Smother it in butter and garlic and you'll be in love.


Now, that is a pretty extensive list. However, these are my favorite fall/winter wedding menu items and you are sure to love them too. Most of them are warm, some cheesy, all delicious and perfect for the chilly weather! 

Written and composed by Tabitha Paganelli

Are you looking for invitations for your big day?  Did you know that Charming Tree Design offers a full line of beautiful wedding invitations and day of stationery?  Click here to take a look at what we have to offer.  Custom designs are also available, get more info by clicking here.

Why it's important to just start!

So, you have an idea and are very excited about it.  You can't wait to get started, so you begin to do lots of research.  After looking at other businesses or blogs related to what you want to do, doubt starts to set in.  After looking at their blog, you think, wow, their photos are amazing, I'm not a photographer and I don't think I can ever get my photos to look that good.  Or, they are very good with words, I could never write like them.  Then you might start to wonder if your ideas are as great as you originally thought they were.  Before you know it, you are no longer as excited and wonder what you were thinking in the first place.  Does this sound familiar?

You don't have to have it all figured out in order to get started.  I think a lot is meant to be figured out as we go.  I certainly didn't have everything all figured out before I got started, and I still don't.  I try to remember that the mistakes I make along the way will eventually help me grow and become better at what I am trying to do.

One of the things that I sometimes get stuck on is moving from doing research to taking action.  It's good to do some research, but if you don't act upon it, what's the point.  The key is just start.  Start blogging, start taking photos, start making videos, start writing an e-book, just start doing what you want to do.  It's really as simple as that.  You don't have to have it all figured out before hand, you'll learn as you go.

I think so many people have ideas and don't follow through with them because they wait too long.  The longer you wait, the more likely you'll talk yourself out of doing what you were so excited to do.  You might start to think you don't have what it takes, or that your idea isn't that great after all.  Unfortunately I think a lot of great ideas don't happen for this reason.

Another thing I think happens a lot is that we compare our beginning to someone else's middle.  When we get excited about a new opportunity or idea, the first thing we do is research it.  The problem with this is that sometimes when we start researching, we start to think to ourselves, someone else is already doing this, why should I?  Or, they really have an awesome blog, and their photography is amazing.  I don't think my blog will ever look this good.  So, as time goes on, this self-doubt really starts bringing you down.  Before you know it, the idea you had is no longer exciting to you and you don't take that next step to move forward.  We need to realize that, the person whose blog or website you checked out, also had to start from the beginning and over time they got better at what they did, just like you will if you decide to follow through with your idea.  Do your research, but try not to let it get you down.  Realize everyone has to start somewhere.

Perfectionism can also put a huge delay in getting started.  A lot of times I think we want to get everything just right before putting it out into the world.  I agree with what you put online should be well thought out, but sometimes it comes to a point where it paralyzes you and stops you from getting anything done.  When this happens I think it's good to take a step back and realize that what you put online can most of the time be fixed or enhanced in some way or another over time.  When I publish a blog post, I get nervous, but then I realize, I can always make an edit later, or add or delete something if it makes sense later on.  Plus people understand that we are all human and we are going to make mistakes once in a while.  It happens to us all.  The best thing to do is just get the content out there and do the best you can with what you have today.  If you wait until it's "perfect" the day might never come.  Have fun with it and don't take it all too seriously.  This should be fun, not stressful!  I really hope that this post gives you some of the motivation you need to get started today.

"I don't regret things I've done. I regret the things I didn't do when I had a chance."

What to do when you feel uninspired

Everyone has off days.  Sometimes it's due to outside distractions or just plain laziness, but a lot of the time it is due to feeling empty and uninspired.  If you are feeling empty and uninspired, there are a few things you can do to help you get back on track and get your creativity back. Over the past few days I have felt very blocked.  This happens to all creative people, whether they are writers, designers, or crafters.  Unfortunately, you can't force creativity.  I have all these ideas and am so excited for the new direction I want to take my business in, however, whenever I sat down at the computer to work on something, I just couldn't seem to come up with anything worthwhile.  I tried to create a video tutorial and a new design for my Etsy shop, and neither one was working out.  So, what can you do when you feel like nothing is going the way you had planned?  Below are a few tips I came up with while dealing with my "off" days this week.

Get off of the computer and go do something else.  When I'm feeling uninspired, the worst thing I can do is sit there and force myself to be creative.  If I have something else I need to do that day, such as folding laundry or cleaning the house, I will get up and do that instead.  Then, if I feel up to it, I will come back to my computer and try again.  If I'm still not feeling it, I will turn it off and try again the next day.  The important thing is not to get down about it.  Some days are just going to be like that.  Some days are super productive, other days aren't.

Listen to a podcast or read a book.  Another thing I like to do when I have a lack of motivation is to listen to my favorite podcasts or read a good book.  It doesn't take long to get me excited again and thinking about my next projects.  It doesn't have to be a book or podcast that relates to your business, inspiration can come from anywhere.

Think like a child.  As we get older, we don't tap into our imagination as often anymore.  Kids use their imagination all the time, and it is without restrictions and limitations.  They don't think about the money, time or resources needed.  They can easily turn a box into an imaginary car or a house while playing.  Next time you brainstorm, try not to get hung up on why something might not work.  Be free with your thoughts and write it all down.  You never know what might come of this kind of free thinking.  Thinking like a child can help you to come up with better, more creative ideas.

Step away from your niche.  Sometimes I get really overwhelmed with all the info out there on starting a blog or tips for starting a business.  While there is a lot of great info out there, sometimes too much of it can be a bad thing.  I find it useful to take a step back and read up on other industries or topics I'm interested in.  You can find inspiration all around you.  It's good to explore other areas of interest and not focus on just one thing.

And lastly... Don't get down on yourself if you're just not feeling it.  Know that it will pass and you will be back on track in no time.  Taking a step away sometimes can refresh your mind and energize you.  Know that you will come back full force and ready to tackle all your projects before you know it.  It happens to everyone at some point.  The most important thing is that you don't give up and you keep going.

What do you do when you feel uninspired?

Graphic Design Tips for Your Business

Where is the best place to download free fonts?

I love dafont.com.  I recommend you first check out the fonts at dafont.com before going anywhere else.  They have some really nice fonts, and they are all FREE!  You have to be careful though because some of them are for personal use only, so if you are planning on selling anything you create, I recommend using a font that isn't for personal use only.

Where is the best place to buy stock images and fonts?

I highly recommend the Creative Market.  I could spend hours looking at all the pretty images and fonts for sale on their site.  They sell product mockups, stock photos, fonts, Photoshop actions, WordPress templates and much more.  It really is a collection of, in my opinion, the best stuff out there for designers to use.  I high recommend checking it out!

Where to buy styled stock photography...

The first places I check when looking for styled stock is Show It Better, Kate Maxwell Styled Stock Photography, and SC Stockshop.  These photographers are so talented at what they do!  I highly recommend subscribing to the SC Stockshop newsletter, Shay puts out so much good content and gives away free images once in a while.  This is one of my favorite newsletters I subscribe to.

When having your logo designed... (this is SO important)

Make sure your designer creates your logo as a vector file.  A vector file consists of lines and curves, rather than pixels.  The nice thing about a vector image is that you can enlarge it as much as you need without losing quality.  A vector logo can also be converted to ANY type of logo you will ever need in the future; a JPEG, PNG, PDF, etc.  By having a vector logo on hand, all of your printing and web logo needs will be covered for future projects.  If there is anything you take away from this post, this should be it.

As far as color goes...

My all-time favorite website for finding awesome color combinations is Adobe Color CC (formerly known as Adobe Kuler).  This is my go-to site if I need some inspiration for color.  One of my favorite things to do is upload a photo and have it pull colors from the image.  You can then take the color combinations you create and upload them as swatches in your Creative Suite software.

Adobe Color CC Example
Adobe Color CC Example

What programs do graphic designers use?

Most professional designers use Adobe Creative Suite.  The creative suite includes InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop.  I'll break down how I use each program below...

InDesign - I use this for laying out everything from invitations to business cards.  For me, InDesign is the place where everything comes together; the photos, the logos, and the text.  You can create everything from inspiration boards to wedding favor tags to blog graphics with this program.

Illustrator - I use this program to design logos, social media icons, stamps, and more.  For those of you who are into calligraphy or hand-lettering, you can use Illustrator to digitize your type using the image trace tool and a scanner or your iPhone.

Photoshop - I use Photoshop for all of my photo editing needs.  I can adjust the lightness/darkness of a photo as well as its hue and saturation.  I can easily turn my images to grayscale, or play around with overlays and actions.  The action I used for the photo below can be found here.

example of photoshop action
example of photoshop action

Most common types of file formats:

JPEG - (Joint Photographic Experts Group)  The most common image type.

PNG - (Portable Network Graphics)  A raster file which supports transparent backgrounds.

PSD - (Adobe Photoshop Document)  An editable Photoshop file.  Always save this original file so you can make changes if needed.

Illustrator EPS -  A vector image file which printers will typically ask for when printing your artwork.  An EPS can be color separated for the printing press, and can be enlarged to whatever size you need without losing any quality.

My top 5 graphic design tips are...

1) Pair contrasting fonts.  A nice script such as Bickham Script Pro for a heading goes nicely with a serif font such as Mrs Eaves Roman for the body of the text.  Play around with fonts and see what works and what doesn't.  Also, try to keep script and display fonts for headings and captions.

2) Logo design is best when it is simple, memorable, timeless, and versatile.  Trendy logos are fun to use, but if you want to start building your brand, stick with something that won't go out of style and is timeless.

3) Make sure all of your images are at a high enough resolution.  For printing you want the image to be 300 dpi (at the size the image will print at).  For example - if you want the image to be printed at 5x7, you will want to make sure it is saved at 5x7, 300 dpi.  If the image is only 2x4, even though it is at 300 dpi your image will not print at a high enough resolution when it is blown up to 5x7. 

4) Use consistent elements within your brand.  Your ultimate goal is to create visual recognition.

5) Research your audience.  Build a brand that resonates with your audience.  Figure out who they are, what they like to do, and what makes them happy.  Once you figure that out, all of your other decisions will be made with them in mind, and will make the process so much easier.