By Lindsay Stockhecke  



If you haven’t noticed DIY weddings are all the rage right now, and why not?  With Pinterest and endless blogs giving you a guaranteed roadmap it seems like a foolproof approach to your wedding that will cut major cost.  So, before you take the DIY wedding plunge here are some things to consider to ensure you don’t bite off more than you can chew.

1. How Martha are you?  

Tackling your wedding décor can be super fun and a great time to rally your girls together for some cocktails and crafting, but if you aren’t super creative to begin with this could be more frustrating than fun.  You don’t want to have the added stress of learning new skill in addition to all the other inevitable wedding stress, so do a little soul searching beforehand.

2. Storage Space

How much space do you have to store all your creations?  Wedding décor can quickly take up space once you consider all the elements to include.  Before you tackle 30 centerpieces be sure you have somewhere to convenientlystore those bad boys for the next six months.

3. Budget

A common misconception is that DIY weddings are significantly cheaper and in some cases this is true, but not always.  Depending on how crafty you are will determine how many random items you may need to purchase (think, do you already have a Criket for all that fabulous signage you’re daydreaming about?). Between your local craft store and Etsy you may be able to purchase items outright so crunch those numbers, baby!

4. Transport

Once created, all your DIY décor will need transported to your venue (unless your wedding is at your place).  When planning this component, you will want to look at how early you are able to drop items off at your venue, how much vehicle space you will need (ie will it take more than one trip in your mini cooper) and who will be doing the transporting.  If you have ample time and space plus a designated gopher to transport your items you’re golden, if not you may want to rethink things.

5. Set up 

Okay, you have created all your stunning décor, stored it for months, transported it and it is now your special day and it is all piled on a table.  So, who is setting up all this fab décor?  Designating a point person is absolutely essential or else you may end up walking down the aisle and realizing your aisle is missing.  We suggest a team for this job because all the tiny pieces can quickly add up to several hours of work.  If the majority of your guests are out of towners they may not be too keen on the idea, but if you have a whole slew of family and friend’s eager to execute your dream DIY wedding, sign ‘em up!  

Whether you hop on the DIY train or take another route be sure to consider what will make the process as enjoyable and low stress as possible.  Avoid the frustration and regret by going into it with your eyes wide open and maintaining all (or some) of your sanity.



Signage Credit
Photography: Monique Serra Photography
Floral Design: Good Seed Floral
Coordination, Signage: Clink and Kiss

Centerpiece Photo Credits
Photography – White Ash Photography
Event Planning – The Heirloom

Choosing that special gift for those ladies that have stood beside you through the blood, sweat and tears of planning a wedding may be more than a bit challenging. After all your bridal party has been there through every fitting, color swatch picking even possibly pulling you out of those teeny tiny melt downs.

I have spent hours searching locally ,on etsy and even found some amazing diy gifts that I believe will be the perfect way to show your gratitude.

Get ready for what I believe are some of the most creative and thoughtful gifts each bridesmaid will cherish.

1. Lavish bath box. If you could photograph a smell , I'd believe opening this box and taking this photo was like capturing heaven. The aromas literally didn't leave the room for days!  These gift boxes include bath Bombs, bubble bars, Salts, Soaps, Soaks, scrubs, and more along with accessories needed for the perfect most lavish bath.

If you love as much as I do, they offer monthly subscriptions for under $40.00 per month


2. Cinderollies


Ladies its time ditch your heels for these cute, comfortable pair of flats!

These adorable, comfortable and oh so convenient ballet flats come in 6 different colors. They can fold up and fit in your clutch and are definitely going to be a hit on the dance floor.

They also offer a 10% discount for bridal party orders when you order 6 or more for your bridesmaids. Just enter coupon code "BRIDE2B" at checkout for 10% off your order and the best part is they are under $15.00.

3. KayBellaChic


This gorgeous monogram clutch will be the perfect accessory. These clutches are little bigger than normal size. You can easily fit a cell phone, keys, small wallet, and a few other items can easily fit. They offer a variety of colors and this classy rose gold clutch will only run you $30.00 per bridesmaid.

4. Bridesmades Robes by silkandmore


If you have ever spent a second on Pinterest searching bridesmaid gifts then you have run across one of these adorable robes. I think my favorite thing about this gift is that its truly something I'd use on a regular basis. Silk and more offers many different patterns and each robe is customizable and is priced modestly at under $20.00 per robe.

5. Crown Brew Coffee

crown brew

Oh for the Love of the Brew, this coffee is impeccable. This Southern Illinois local business not only offers an amazing cup of Joe but they offer an array of gifts including monthly subscriptions, personalized gift boxes starting at around $25.00.

6. Hand Stamped Jewelry at Irons In The Fire 18033480_1458013584269824_2964735840115376534_n

Another unique and breathtaking southern Illinois small business worth shopping at for that one of a kind bridesmaid gift. This hidden gem houses art and jewelry created by local artist and metal smith Shawn Vaughn .

7. Personalize Tumbler at  DecoratedBliss


This Etsy shop offers and array of different designs, tumblers and wine tumblers. They make the perfect keepsake for those summer weddings and most definitely something your bridesmaid will use over and over again.

8. Custom makeup bag


Personalize the way you please and possibly put in a tube of waterproof mascara for your girls on your big day. These 100% cotton cosmetic bags will be both a thoughtful and totally convenient gift for those ladies standing by your side.

9. DIY Gold Sequined Hanger


Ditch those plastic hangers from the bridal shop and break out your hot glue gun. These gorgeous and so simply made hangers not only photograph well but are easy and beyond affordable to make. All you need is wooden hangers from your local Walmart, 1 inch sequined trim, hot glue gun and ribbon. I believe my favorite thing about these are they provide the grip to keep those dresses on the hangers for your photographer to capture the perfect image of your dress.

10. DIY Hankey

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If you find yourself feeling creative and want to create a one of a kind handkerchief for your bridesmaids these adorable handkerchiefs are only $8.99 for a 8 pack atCarol Wright Gifts. A little hand stitching you will be able to create something so timeless and meaningful.


If you believe in fairy tales and enjoy enchanting entertainment, then a Walt Disney World Honeymoon is perfect for you! It is the place where dream making is a top priority and storybook fantasies can become everyday realities! On a magical Disney honeymoon, you will dine like royalty, dream in luxurious accommodations, sit together on thrilling attractions and enjoy spectacular fireworks shows. A honeymoon filled with wonder and delight-where every day has a fairy-tale ending.

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You can stay where the magic never ends and every dream is just a wish away! At Walt Disney World Resorts there are accommodations for every taste and budget. No matter where you choose to stay, you will be surrounded by Disney’s signature quality service.

Top Five Most Romantic Resorts to Honeymoon:
1. Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
2. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
3. Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
4. Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside or French Quarter
5. Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

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Disney’s talented chefs have created menus full of exquisite gourmet selections with the greatest of artistry. Enjoy the wide variety of cuisine at the many dining choices.

Top Five Most Romantic Dinners:
1. Victoria & Albert’s is the most romantic restaurant at Walt Disney World and is found at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. It’s the only AAA 5-Diamond restaurant in Walt Disney World.
2. Monsieur Paul, formerly Bistro de Paris, is a located upstairs in Epcot’s France Pavilion. The general ambiance of the restaurant gives the place a real classy feel.
3. California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort offers the perfect ambiance. Sophisticated décor with a view from the top of the world, a window table here is a must! Enjoy watching fireworks as you dine here for dinner.
4. Jiko-The Cooking Place is located at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. The ambiance is impeccable with appropriate lighting and properly spaced tables.
5. Cinderella’s Royal Table is found in Magic Kingdom. Dining with Disney Princesses inside Cinderella’s Castle is a one of a kind Fairytale Dining Experience!

Disney offers many recreational activities for you and your spouse to enjoy. Whether it be golfing, parasailing, playing tennis or working out at a Disney fitness center. Each resort has swimming pools, so you might want to take a swim or just relax poolside. Dive into the fun at one of Disney’s two refreshing water parks.

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Top Five Romantic things to do on your Honeymoon in Disney:

1. Book a couples massage at one of world famous spas on Disney property. They are designed to elevate the mind and have you looking and feeling your best.
2. Book a horse drawn carriage ride at Disney’s Port of Orleans Resort-Riverside.
3. Enjoy a complimentary romantic boat ride that is available and runs between Disney’s Port Orleans Resort and Disney Springs area.
4. Complimentary Disney Movie at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground
5. Watch the Electrical Water Pageant from the beach at any Magic Kingdom Park area resort. Whatever you decide to do it will be “Magical!”

Experience the magic of Disney’s four captivating theme parks. Travel around the globe, under the sea, into outer space and beyond at Epcot. You can visit 11 countries in Epcot’s World Showcase. At Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park you can see the magic of nature with rare animals and world class entertainment. Enjoy Kilimanjaro Safari ride as it takes you on a guided tour of an African savanna, home to live exotic animals. Visit Hollywood Studios Theme Park where movie magic comes to life during stage shows and stunt spectaculars. Don’t forget to watch the nighttime spectacular, Fantasmic. Last, but certainly not least explore lands of endless enchantment at Magic Kingdom Theme Park. This is where your fantasy becomes a reality at the most magical place on earth!! End your night viewing Wishes Nighttime Spectacular right down the middle of Main Street, U.S.A.

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During your Honeymoon stay take advantage of Disney’s Photo Pass photography service in the theme parks. They will capture your magical memories of your first adventure together as newlyweds.

541068 513279040567 263920770 n-This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. I enjoy traveling so much that I decided to join the agency in 2013 and assist others with their travel adventures.

I love my job as a travel agent specializing in Disney. I specialize in selling all things Disney including Disney World Orlando, Disneyland California, Disney Cruises, Adventures by Disney and Aulani Hawaii. I can also help plan your next vacation whether it be traveling around the U.S. on a Weekend Getaway, Ocean Cruising somewhere like Alaska, River Cruising on the Seine River in France, Romantic Getaway to an All Inclusive Resort in Mexico, or Honeymoon Packages anywhere in the world. I like to visit the destinations that I sell, so I can learn first-hand information in helping my client’s dreams come true! Therefore, I have been to Disneyland Paris, Aulani Hawaii, Disney cruising twice, Disneyland 4 times, and countless times to Disney World during all seasons. I have an Adventures By Disney vacation planned for next year to South Africa. I have also traveled on several cruise lines including Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Holland Cruise to Panama Canal. I took an amazing Ama Waterways Cruise in Europe including Paris and Normandy. I have visited Alaska and traveled around in an R.V. I have been to Mexico and stayed in an All Inclusive Resort; I have taken Amtrak train to New York, and have traveled to many other destinations in the U.S. So whether it is land, rail, or sea that I can assist you in finding the perfect fit for you vacation destination.

“I have never done this before! How do I even start?”

As wedding photographers, this is without a doubt the question we hear the most. If you have never helped plan a wedding before, or you have never even been in a wedding before, trying to write out a time line for the entire day is overwhelming. There are so many details!

Matthew and I get it. We do. After photographing and assisting on more then 300 combined weddings.... We understand. Our goal is to make this as simple and easy as possible, so you can get back to focusing on the fun stuff.

Below, you will find our top five tips for planning out your day, along with a copy of our wedding time line planning sheet; this simple worksheet will break down each part of the day into manageable steps, and is the perfect starting point. (We even have two sample time lines to help you get started!)

So grab a cup of cocoa, print out the worksheet, and let's get started!

Tip 1: The First Look

A First Look is the photographer term for a couple seeing each other before the wedding. Sometimes, the couple grabs some balloons, travel to their favorite spot, and have an epic moment in a garden. Sometimes, the groom stands in the aisle of the church, the bride walks up behind, and he turns around and gets to enjoy the moment without all the distractions.


Having a first look allows you the opportunity to have almost all of your couple, family, and bridal party photos done before the ceremony begins. It is typically less rushed, you have more time for fun and unique photos, and everyone still looks their best. As a bonus, it reduces the time needed between the ceremony and the reception, allowing you to spend more time with your guests and maybe even get a snack at your cocktail hour!

However, never feel that you need to do a first look. You absolutely do not. You might prefer to save the surprise and anticipation for the moment when you first walk down the aisle. Or your fiance might prefer to keep with tradition. In either case, please make certain that if you are (or are not) doing a First Look it is because the two of you have chosen it together; not to please other people.

(Fun fact: Of the 22 grooms that did a first look this past year, every one of them cried when he saw his bride walking down the aisle during the ceremony. Of the 15 that did not do a First Look, only one cried. )

Tip 2: We're late!

When planning out the day, there are actually a few things about the ceremony that you will want to keep in mind. Guests typically start showing up on site half an hour before the time listed on the invitation. If you want the guests to a) not see you and b) take their seats, the bridal party should be out of sight at least 30 minutes beforehand.


For every 100 guests, typically at least five of them are running a few minutes late. (Especially at weddings in out of the way locations.) Starting a few minutes behind schedule is actually a good thing! It allows guests to make the mad dash from the parking lot and find their seat before the bridal party lines up. If you will have music playing before the processional starts, make sure you have an extra song or two ready to go, just in case people are still being seated. (If you have a professional DJ, no worries! He will have this covered.)

Tip 3: Hair and Makeup

When do weddings start running late? At the salon. When you book the appointments, show the stylist the look you are trying to achieve and get her estimate on how long it will take to do. (i.e. Curled hair with an updo. Airbrushing. Contouring. False eyelashes. Covering up suntan lines. Bridesmaid decides she does want makeup after all. These things can add on a significant amount of time if the stylists were not anticipating them. Bridesmaid not sure if she wants false eyelashes? Include them in her time slot.)


Always do a hair and makeup trial before the big day; your hair and makeup session will go so much faster! Be sure to wear a white shirt (if your dress will be white) to your trial to give you a better idea of how the look will go together. Have your photo taken in several different lighting situations to make sure you like how it photographs. If you can, try and arrange the trial the same day as your engagement session, so that you can see how the makeup will appear in your professional images and adjust accordingly. Remember to bring photos of your hair and makeup trial with you on your wedding day.

Tip 4: Family Photos

Ahhh... family photos. Everyone loves having them, but on the day of your friends and family would rather head to cocktail hour. The key to getting these photos done quickly is to get everyone in the room, and keep them there. ;)

An experienced photographer needs 2-3 minutes per group photo. As most families average around 10 photographs, it will take about half an hour in total.


Tip 5: Sunset

We always strongly recommend sneaking away from the reception for a mini set of couple portraits. Not only is the lighting around sunset gorgeous, you are in a totally different space emotionally. The stress is over. The party is going strong. Your guests are having a great time. And you can just enjoy those moments of finally being married.


Is the sun setting during dinner, or the weather isn't cooperating? Some of the most romantic photographs are taken after dark or in the rain. Ask your photographer if they have off camera lighting, grab your veil, and create something outstanding.

I know, I know. Enough tips already! Let's see the time lines. ;) Check them out below!


Timeline without a First Look:

12:00 - bride, bridesmaids, and family finish hair and makeup, eat lunch
12:30 - groom, his family, and groomsmen get dressed
1:00 - girls get dressed, groom's family + groomsmen start their photos
1:45 - bride's family + bridesmaids photos
2:30 - guests arrive, bridal party out of sight
3:00 - ceremony
3:30 - receiving line
4:00 - bubble exit, sign marriage license
4:15 - start family photos; bride's family, groom's family, then bridal party, and then the couple
5:00 - bridal party photos on location
6:00 - enter reception

Timeline With a First Look
11:30 - girls finished hair and makeup, eat lunch
12:00 - girls get dressed
1:00 - first look, bride and groom photos
1:45 - arrive at site, do family photos
2:30 - guests arrive
3:00 - ceremony
3:30 - receiving line / release the pews
4:00 - couple of quick photos (missing family from earlier, a couple of the two of you)
4:30 – sign marriage license, then head to the reception hall
5:00 - join your guests at cocktail hour
6:00 - enter reception

“Ok. I have that so far. But how do I know I scheduled enough time?”

An experienced professional photographer will typically sit down with you before the wedding day, to walk through your vision of the day and all of the moments you want captured. They will look at the timeline, and help you adjust it to fit in everything you need.

Remember, too, that your wedding vendors have been to dozens – hundreds – of weddings. We are here to help you. If you ever have any questions about how much time things will take or when something needs to happen by, never hesitate to ask.

Happy Planning!

-Jaclyn Hubbard


We are Matthew & Jaclyn Hubbard; a husband and wife photography team in Southern Illinois. After years in the industry, we have narrowed our focus to elusively shooting couples. We love documenting each stage of a couple's walk together, from boyfriend/girlfriend, to the surprise proposal, engagement photos, the wedding day, and beyond.

Matthew and I met at Brooks Institute of Photography, an award winning photography school based in Santa Barbara, CA. We married two years later, on March 1, 2008.

The last few years have given us three absolutely adorable children; Nathan (6) is our little professor, Kaelyn (4) has a grin that can light up any room, and Alicia (2) is the most stubborn charmer you have ever seen. When we are not doing photography, you can usually find us kicking a soccer ball around the yard, making play-doh snakes, reading "Where the Wild Things Are," or heading to the local farmers market.

Now, when we look back at our wedding day photos, it is so strange to think that there were only two of us. It is hard to remember what life was like before the kiddos! But now, we get to share them with our children, and they LOVE looking through them. "Look! I found Grandpa!" "Aunt Nini looks pretty!" "I like the cake! Can I have a cake like that?"

Flipping through an album with our children reminds us of how quickly your wedding day becomes a collection of photographs, how important our job really is, and it helps us love it even more.


Hello my name is Marty Diekemper and I am co-owner of Short Circuit Entertainment along with my brother Tim Diekemper. 

wernsman reception rngphotos 175Today I would like to talk to you about choosing your entertainment for your upcoming wedding reception.   Hiring the right entertainment for your wedding is one the many big decisions you have to make for your “BIG” day.   When choosing your wedding entertainment, you are not just hiring someone to play music at your wedding celebration; you are hiring someone to represent you & your fiancé, someone that is going to be your voice for the reception, someone that is going to coordinate all your ideas and plans for your “perfect wedding reception” with the other vendors & guest.  Take some time to research and learn about the DJ companies you may be considering,  ask them if they would be willing to meet with you & your fiancé for a “Pre-booking” meeting to discuss their services,  If a DJ is not willing to meet with a perspective client or their client at least once prior to the wedding, than you may want to reconsider, because you put too much time, energy & planning into your wedding reception to have something overlooked because the DJ doesn’t want to meet in person. Ask other vendors like photographers & wedding venues if they have any preferred DJ companies that they have worked with in the past?   Planning your wedding day is also very expensive, from your dress, tuxedos, photographer, venue, videographer, entertainment & decorations.  Set your budgets accordingly,  you will find that professional disc jockey’s will average $750.00 to $1,500.00 for services that include delivery, set-up & tear-down of a professional sound system, emcee services, coordination, music programming & 4 to 7 hours of entertainment.  Keep in mind that rates vary based on popularity, personality, professionalism, service, talent, creativity & other factors.  You must decide if you simply need someone to program music for the evening or if you need a multi-talented entertainer, coordinator, emcee and music programmer.  Whatever you spend on your entertainment, please READ you contract before signing the agreement.  If you are looking for a specific entertainer, make sure it is guaranteed in writing.  Understanding the terms of agreement will help you avoid disappointment on the day of your wedding celebration.  The American DJ Association is dedicated to raising the standards for professional disc jockeys.  Our goal is to help you plan & create a successful wedding celebration. Here are some questions that the American Disc Jockey Association has put together for you to ask before hiring you DJ.
10 questions to ask before hiring your DJ

Are we guaranteed the DJ of our choice on the day of our event?

A written contract with your specific DJ protects you from unscrupulous operators.

How many years of experience do you have?

Experience brings knowledge of common problems & situations. Be sure you DJ has experience with your type of event.

May we call your references?

References are a major part of the entertainment business.

Do you belong to any professional associations or trade groups?

An involved business person shows a willingness to learn, network & share ideas. Belonging to a professional trade group reflects a caring attitude.

Will you allow request?

Request should be welcome. If a song seems inappropriate, a good DJ will explain the reason & ask for an alternative selection.

How early will you be there to set up?

An average of 60 minutes should be allowed for set up & sound check. Normally there is no additional charge for this service.

How will you be dressed?

Proper attire reflects a positive image to your guest.

Are you insured?

Insurance is a part of any legitimate business. Liability & casualty policies protect yourself, your guest & your DJ company.

Do you use professional gear?

Using professional sound equipment helps insure reliable service & quality presentation.

Will you provide an emergency back-up system at our event?

Wedding & special events are often once in a lifetime opportunities. A back-up system protects your investment.

Thank you for your time & I hope you find these questions to be helpful in the hiring of your wedding entertainment. Congratulations on your engagement & Best of Luck in your wedding planning.

dj marty

I have been working as a DJ/Entertainer in the wedding industry for the past 26 years. I currently live in Breese IL, where I currently work for Southern Bus & Mobility. I graduated from Mater Dei Catholic High School in 1990 and attended Kaskaskia College. I attend Broadcast Center in 2001 where I got my degree in radio/TV broadcasting. I began my DJ career in the fall of 1990. I joined the Short Circuit team in the fall of 1994 and became co-owner with my brother in 2001. Together we provide the services of not only a wedding DJ, but aIso as a wedding reception coordinator & master of ceremonies. I am a member of the American Disc Jockey Association and am active in the St. Louis ADJA chapter. Joining the ADJA and the St. Louis ADJA chapter has helped me continue my education in our industry and allowed me to attend numerous workshops & conferences like the “The Professional Process” with Peter Merry, Mobile Beat Conference and The Las Vegas DJ Conference. When I am not working I enjoy golfing and just spending time with my family & friends.


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