This past wedding season, I've had the opportunity to work with an AMAZING photographer.  Great vendors are hard to find, so when I find one, I tell everyone I know.  Here is the review I've written for Aaron Courter Photography, posted on yelp.com:

I am the owner of A Bride's Best Friends, a wedding coordinating company located in Vancouver, WA.  I've worked with Aaron Courter at two weddings this year, and I have been nothing but thrilled with his work.  He is always on time or earlier, dressed professionally, is patient, pleasant, and his photos are amazing!  He doesn't drink while he's shooting (which believe it or not has happened with the majority of other photographers I've seen), he doesn't disappear for smoke breaks (again, it happens frequently), and despite his expertise, constant level of quality photos, as well as rave reviews from past clients, he is still humble and listens to his clients desires and visions for their photos.  Having been a bride in the past, and constantly working with budget-savvy brides, I know the importance of keeping on budget, and watching where hard-earned money is spent.  With that being said, Aaron Courter does not necessarily have the lowest photography fees, however I do not consider that a negative in his case.  He is worth every penny and more, and I highly recommend adjusting wherever possible to have him for your day...if you can manage to book him!  I know he's highly sought-after for wedding photography; I've had a couple of brides who've tried to book him, and they were very disappointed to hear he was already booked.  I highly recommend Aaron Courter Photography for any of your photography needs.  I plan to book him when my husband and I are ready to have our vow renewal!

For contact information for Aaron Courter Photography
check out our *Vendors* tab!
 
 
      Jessica (Quitugua) Bennett and Oneil Bennett were married at a beautiful indoor ceremony at Columbia Edgewater in Portland, OR.  With a large bridal party of 7 bridesmaids and 7 groomsmen, they had plenty of joyful company during their preparation in the morning.  They took their "first look" photos on site at Columbia Edgewater with Alex Maier of Lifelight Imagery prior to the ceremony, while the staff at Edgewater along with myself set up the ceremony and reception area.  
      The ceremony and reception were held in the same area.  The ceremony set-up consisted of rows of chairs with black chair covers on a beautiful hardwood floor, all provided by Columbia Edgewater.  The bridal party had long, flowing red dresses with a black empire waistline that looked wonderful next to the bride's strapless sweetheart mermaid gown.  The groomsmen's attire consisted of black suits with red vests and white shirts, while the groom wore a black suit with a red vest and a black shirt.  All men's attire was provided by Mr. Formal.  The ceremony had an extra special touch with the wedding ceremony officiated by Jessica's godfather.  
      For the reception the room was transformed and expanded to fit their 125 guests.  Columbia Edgewater provided the round tables, linens, and chairs for their reception as well.  Dinner and the wedding cake was catered by Columbia Edgewater, and they did a fabulous job.  Guests had a great time during dinner, drinks, and dancing the night away, with a great playlist of songs provided by a friend of the couple, and local DJ, Josh Smith.
      Jessica and Oneil looked amazing together on their day.  You could see the love in their eyes and feel the happiness in their hearts.  I felt very blessed to be part of it!  Following their wedding day, Jessica and Oneil went on a cruise in Mexico.  Congratulations newlyweds!!  : )
     

Wedding Bliss Breakdown:
~Wedding Date: May 21st, 2011
~Colors:  Red, Black, and White
~Bridal Party: 7 Bridesmaids, 7 Groomsmen
~Venue (ceremony):  Columbia Edgewater
~Venue (reception):  Columbia Edgewater
~Honeymoon:  Mexico (cruise)
~Guest Count: 125
~Photographer:  Lifelight Imagery Photography & Design by Alex Maier
~Caterer:  Columbia Edgewater
~Cake Baker:  Columbia Edgewater
~DJ: Josh Smith
~Florist:  All flowers for the ceremony and reception were DIY by the Bride and her bridal party.  Amazing! 
~Bridesmaids Dresses:  Fashionland.com
~Bride's Gown:  Beautiful Brides For Less
~Groom's Suit:  Mr. Formal
~Groomsmens Suits:  Mr. Formal


 
 
I just received my plaque for being voted a 'Best of Weddings 2011' vendor on theknot.com, and I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who voted!  There's nothing better than feeling that our clients are satisfied with the services we provide.  Thanks again for the support!

 
 
Doesn’t every couple dread the possible scenario of a dull, routine wedding reception?  You’re having your day of celebration, and everyone you want is invited to be part of it, and it’s boring…what could be worse?

I didn’t really think of a Paparazzi Tonight’s photo booth as being the universal answer for more energy and participation out of guests at an event until I saw them in action.  My hubby and I met them at the Rose City Bridal Show, and saw them again at the NW WedPro Bridal Show, at which point we gave in ourselves and took pictures.  They were awesome!  We took a few pictures, and as soon as we were done, they popped right out of their printer on the spot.  I was pretty impressed at how simple and quick it was to get our pictures.  I walked over to the table that had all of the props on it, and right next to the vintage hats and odd signs was a book with some blank pages that was used as a guest book.  There were cute little messages and well-wishings, along with pictures from the photo booth.  Each set of pictures had space for a custom message, which could be the wedding date, the name of the bride and groom, or a short thank-you note from the newlyweds.  After I saw that little book, I was sold!  Couples are getting creative when it comes to their guest book, so it was a great idea! 

The oversized sunglasses, crazy hats, feather boas, and giant wedding rings definitely make this photo booth a little different than the usual wedding photography, and should not be used instead of a regular photographer.  This piece of entertainment should be used as a supplementary keepsake to your wedding photos.  They can be used as favors for your guests, guestbook entries, or any other use you can think of for these handy, quick pics.  Along with the prints you get on the spot, you also get access to all of the photos from your event.  Don’t worry, they are password protected so your family and friends can access them as well, but they won’t be public (unless you want them to be). 

 Our pictures are posted on Paparazzi Tonight’s website…go check them out!  Our picture is here: http://photos.paparazzitonight.com/YOURPARTY/Brides-Against-Breast-Cancer/14145698_wNuR7#P-22-15.  You can look at the rest of the photos on the website at: www.paparazzitonight.com.  Click on “Your Party” and check out all of the pictures.  Thanks Paparazzi Tonight for the fun!

 
 
We have a page at thumbtack.com!  It's still in the making, so bear with us.  You can check it out here: <a href="http://www.thumbtack.com/WE-coordinate-YOU-relax-and-enjoy-your-day-Vancouver-WA/service/86790">WE coordinate, YOU relax and enjoy your day.</a>
 
 
Finding your perfect dream dress is one of the greatest parts of planning your wedding!  Here are some "do's" and "dont's" to keep the experience enjoyable:
DO be aware of your budget.  Every wedding has a budget, and every bride should do their best to remember it, and stick to it.  Trying on an amazing dress that brings you to tears, and then finding out the dress is double your dress budget...will bring nothing but more tears.  The price-tag shock and buyers remorse are not necessary to find a dress that will look stunning.  So stay within your price range and enjoy your options within it!
DO bring pictures, magazine cut-outs, and descriptions of what you are interested in.  There are hundreds of shades of white in bridal, and endless dress combinations.  If there's something specific you're interested in, be sure to let your dress consultant know.  Maybe you envision a corset lace-back, or a princess ballgown.  These ideas will give you and your consultant a good place to start.
DO book an appointment for wedding dress shopping.  Some businesses require an appointment, some do not.  It is always better to be safe than sorry.  Booking an appointment will make sure you get the attention and help that you deserve and desire, and also make sure you have a changing room to try on dresses.
DON'T bring every member of your family.  I know there are important people in your life whose opinions you value.  There's nothing wrong with that.  It is absolutely okay to have a person or two there with you to give you an honest opinion, enjoy the dress shopping, and look at things from an outside perspective.  After one or two people, things just get complicated.  If there are too many people there to give their two-cents, you will be fighting your entourage to be heard.  After all, this is about what you want for your wedding.  This is your dress, and ultimately, it should be about what the bride thinks.  Even though they all mean well, it may be better to take pictures of the dress you choose, and show them later.
DON'T pick the first dress you see...without trying on other dresses.  It's rare for a bride to try on their very first dress, say, "This is the one!", and then be completely content with the decision for the rest of the time they're planning the wedding...and that's okay!  There are so many dresses, with so many options available.  It's okay to try on more than one dress!  Picking the first dress you see without trying on at least a couple more is just risky.  Even if you try on a couple more and absolutely hate them, they will help validate your response to the dress you're loving.
DON'T try on a hundred dresses in one fitting!  Not every bride finds their dress the first time they look for their wedding gown.  Trying on a few dresses is normal.  However, when you try on too many at once, and go through a variety of silhouettes, styles, and colors, it may just become more confusing.  Trying your options is great; exercising every single one of them in one sitting is not so great. 
DO have fun!  This whole process is meant to be a positive experience for those involved, so have fun.  Take this time to bond with those you bring with you (if you bring anyone with you), and practice soaking up the attention that comes with being the blushing bride.
Are there any brides who have gone through their wedding gown shopping experience with something to share?  Comment below!

Hope this helps. : )

~Laurie~
 
 
          My hubby's birthday was coming up, and because he is a man with a definite sweet tooth, I decided to order a special cake from Meghan at Cakes By Design.  Since my DH is a little on the particular side, I decided to let him choose his cake and filling.  Of course his first choice was chocolate cake, and of course he chose a filling that wasn't listed on her website: fresh strawberries.    
          I e-mailed Meghan about the filling and she wasn't worried one bit about it.  She said that would be just fine.  I was a little suprised considering I e-mailed her only a few days before his birthday (sometimes time flies way faster than you thought it would!) with this random cake request.  After the e-mails, and thinking about this awesome-sounding cake I just ordered, I was starting to get a little excited for the cake. : )
          We picked it up from her on his birthday, and it looked great!  My husband used to work at a bakery a few years back, and he was very impressed with the way it looked.  It was very neat and very symmetrical.  It smelled really good too, which made me a little more excited for the cake. : ) 
          After the huge dinner that we had, it was finally time for this cake I had been waiting for!  We lit the candles and sang very loudly, and out of tune...which is probably one of my favorite parts of celebrating birthdays.  Adam took the candles out of his cake and tasted the frosting.  He turned to me and said, "Mmmmmmm, mm-hmm.  This is gonna be good."  We cut the cake, he tried his first bite and said, "Mmmmmmmm, mm-hmm. Yep.  It's good." 
          I was pleasantly suprised by his reaction; not because I didn't think it was going to be good cake, but because even when he likes something his general response is, "It's alright."  But this cake was so good, even HE said it was good.  He said it was moist, flavorful, and the fresh strawberry and whipped-cream filling was awesome.  He said the icing was the way icing is supposed to be:  good-tasting, and not greasy-feeling in your mouth.  He was thoroughly impressed, and so was I with how happy he was with the cake.  It made all of the suspense worth it.  Great job Cakes By Design!  You've won over one the hardest food critics I know! : )
          I HIGHLY recommend checking out her website at: www.cakesbydesign.vpweb.com.  She is also listed here on our website under *Vendors*.  Her cakes truly are amazing, and her prices are too!  She is very easy to work with, and very open to customizing orders to fit the needs of her clients. 

Thank you Cakes By Design for an awesome cake!  

~Laurie~

         
 
 
          I currently have a bride who was looking to have a variety of soups at her wedding.  I've been working with Lana at My Friends & I Catering and man oh man, does she have soups!  Her website lists 25 soups, which Lana says is only half of her actual soup options.  Along with an amazing variety of soups all made from scratch, she has a wide variety of breads as well.  From cornbread to various artisan breads, this caterer definitely makes it easy to find something you will love!  If it's hard for you to make a decision, I definitely would not advise you go alone...bring a friend, the more the merrier!  Breakfast, box lunches, dinners, soup, salads, and desserts; if there's something you want for a simple picnic or special occasion, Lana is the one to get in touch with!  Located in downtown Vancouver, this wonderful company is definitely a local treasure worth visiting!  For more detail on hours of operation, pricing, and menu options, check out their website at:  http://www.myfriendsandicatering.com/index.html 

~Laurie~
 
 
Timeless Paper has some of the neatest place cards, invitations, table numbers, menu cards, and programs I have seen.  I received a sample in the mail from them, and here is a picture of some of the collections they sent me:
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This is a place card from their MAPLE LEAF collection.  This sample was on cream card stock with tan dots.   Tent cards, place cards, menu cards, and table numbers are all available in this collection.

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I believe this is actually paired with their table numbers from their BUTTERFLY collection.  This was on white cardstock, with orange dots.  Even though I don't think it belonged on the glass, it looks great!  Tent cards, place cards, menu cards, gift tags, napkin rings, table numbers, programs, and cake toppers are all available in this collection.

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This is a place card from their SNOWFLAKE collection.  It was on white card stock.  This collection does not have the option to add dots to the outline of the snowflake, but looks so nice without it!  It also looks like this collection has the place card and napkin rings as their only products.

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This is from their ANCHOR collection.  This sample was on ivory cardstock with navy dots.  Tent cards, place cards, menu cards, and table numbers are available in this collections. 

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This is from their LOVEBIRD collection.  This sample came on 'egg blue' cardstock, which is a custom color cardstock available for only 15.00 extra.  The dots on this sample were gray, and worked very nice with the colored cardstock.  Tent cards, place cards, menu cards, napkin rings, table numbers, and programs are all available in this collection. 

There are more collections than are listed here, and they're even categorized by season on their website, which I thought was nice.  My favorite?  I vote for the BUTTERFLY collection.  Regardless of the collection that catches your eye, they have great opportunities to customize each product to fit your needs through color type of the cardstock, dots, shapes, and print.

I like the fact that Timeless Paper offers a wide range of options, as well as a broad list of products in each collection.  These products seem like a creative and reasonably priced element that can add that special touch to anyone's wedding!  For more information, check out there website at: http://timelesspaper.com/.

~Laurie~
 
 
For some brides this is a breeze to cross of off their wedding checklist, and for others...not so much.  No worries!  There's lots of options. 
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     How about blue shoes?  I found these cute (and comfy) shoes on sale at the Vancouver Mall for 10.00.  Not a bad deal at all.  They were stable, tall enough, comfortable, and just sassy enough to add some personality.  You can even paint your toes blue to match. 

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     If you're not big on flashing your "something blue", you can sew a small blue bow to the inside of your wedding dress.  It's okay to hide your something blue if you feel it doesn't fit with your vision.  It doesn't have to be 'big', or 'blingy'; it just has to be blue. 
     If you're looking for other options that aren't visible, a blue garter is a traditional way to go.  Not-so-much the traditional type of bride?  Blue undergarments may be more your style.


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We found this fantastic white and navy blue hair flower on www.etsy.com through Blue Sugar Bridal in Seattle, WA.  Completely hand-made, this accessory could be exactly what you're looking for.  Find more details about this product at the following link:  http://www.etsy.com/listing/22643817/white-and-navy-blue-silk-flower-hair

Good luck with your "something blue"!  If you have any suggestions for something blue, please add them in the comment box below!