Five Essential Questions for your Wedding Photographer

One of the most important vendors at your wedding is your photographer. Whoever you hire is in charge of helping you and all your loved ones remember how awesome your wedding is- that’s huge! We want to help you find the right photographer for your wedding, so be sure to ask them these five questions before you sign the on the dotted line.

“Do you like doing weddings?”

More often than not the photographer will say, yes but take note of how they say it. Some photographers just do weddings to make some quick cash, but if their heart isn’t in it you’ll be able to tell. A photographer is an artist, and that is a very emotional thing. Find a photographer who is passionate about weddings, and your photos will be that much more heartfelt and impactful.

“What’s your turnaround time like?”
Turnaround means how quickly after the wedding will they be able to give you your photos. There are some photographers who are able to do a same-day turn around and give you a slideshow or short video from the ceremony to play at the reception. Some photographers will take a few weeks or longer to edit and get your photos back to you. This is incredibly important, and you should be absolutely sure when you’ll get your images. You don’t want to rely on your sister’s cell phone pics to look back on the most important day of your life. If you’re able to, yelp your photographer or reach out to other people who had that photographer photograph their wedding and ask about their turnaround.

“Will you be bringing help?”

Some photographers travel alone, some have an assistant or two to cover extra angles or to assist in general. If you’re getting married in a tight space, this is very important to know! Have a general head count of how many people will be swarming you. Plus, some photographers may charge a little extra for needing an assistant. Know what you’re getting before the big day!

“What do you need on the day of?”

Have a checklist for the photographer so you’re able to assist to keep things going. Some photographers may ask that they are able to eat during the ceremony as well, some may need to know where all the outlets are. You don’t want to send a groomsman out on an outlet hunt half an hour before the reception starts. Get in touch with the venue to assist in any power questions, and if needed set aside some space for the photographer’s bags or extra items. They may need some space to house their camera cases, backpacks, backup drives, or anything else they need.

“What is your deposit policy?”

Some photographers may not put the deposit towards the overall total of services! Be sure to ask if the deposit goes towards the total, or if the total you are given is after the deposit (as in total plus deposit is the actual cost). Sometimes there can be some confusion so be one hundred percent sure you know what the total cost is for all services. That also includes knowing exactly what you’ll be getting, such as one thumb drive full of everything, access to a private website of your photos, physical prints, etc. Know how you want to receive all your media before you start negotiating so you get everything that you want.


Top Five Kid-Friendly Wedding Ideas

Got a gang of little ones who RSVP’d? Kids can be tricky at traditional big events like weddings (especially if they’re all dressed up in clothes they can’t get messy!). We’ve got a few tips to help you plan for the little ones to keep them, their parents, and you happy.

Group the Little Ones

While you’re going through your RSVP’s, try to get ages (or at least ballpark ages) for all the little ones who will be at the wedding. If they’re too young, it may be good to keep them with their parents. If they’re old enough to not need mom or dad for every bite, think about doing a kid’s table situated between enough of their parents. Remember, every kid is different, so think about whether it will be good or distracting to keep them together during the ceremony. Ceremonies can be tricky, since you’ll want little distraction. Try to envision if they’re old enough to sit still and not make loud noises while you’re reciting your vows. If they’re not, it may be wise to have a plan B for the little ones.

Have a Contingency Plan

If the little ones will get too distracted during the ceremony or won’t be able to sit still, think about having something else set up for them during that time. It’s perfectly okay to be selfish during your wedding- it’s your show your way. Coloring books and crayons can be good for some kids but not enough for others. If you’re able to, maybe assign someone to babysitting duty with the little ones in a separate room or area from the ceremony. Throwing on Finding Nemo and having some puzzles or toys can keep your ceremony from unwanted fits or crying.

Plan the Floor

If you’re doing drinks or any kind of alcohol, be sure that any tabletops are high enough that kids can’t reach them. A maitai may sound good to us, but it looks like juice to little ones. You may also want to keep the gift area elevated enough that kids don’t try to open everything like a  birthday gift unwrapping party. Keeping kids corralled in a corner away from breakables, glass, and alcohol keeps everyone safe.

Consider Entertaining the Little Guests

A DJ or band will tie over your more grown guests, but will music alone engage the kids? Board games like Candyland or Guess Who can really keep younger ones entertained (and maybe some of your older ones, too!). This BHL blogger was at a wedding years ago that actually had a magician to perform for the children. This may be an expense that isn’t always planned for, but that particular wedding had a large number of children and kept them all entertained and happy while the rest of the guests hit the dance floor.

Thank Them Too

Be sure that the kids know that you appreciate them coming as well. Kids can be hard to plan for at weddings, but you should still be courteous to them as guests just like you would any other guest. Address the thank you note to them as well as whoever took them to the wedding, and give them hugs and thank you’s for coming before they leave. If you can, send them copies of any pictures that they’ve made cameos in. You do need to play to their crowd specifically, but they will feel really good about being appreciated.


Five Golden Rules for Holiday Weddings

With the Fourth of July coming up, we’ve got our eyes on Independance day and all the fun traditions that go along with it. This summer has been beautiful so far, and we’ve been day dreaming about a wedding on the fourth (can you tell?). If you’re day dreaming about a holiday wedding too, we’ve got some basic outlines for you to follow to have it go as well as it can!

Give Fair Warning

As soon as you’re locked in, be ready to send out save the dates! Holidays can be hard for people to get extra days off near (since it’s so popular to take extra paid time off around holidays to get extra long vacations), so give warning as early as possible. If your save the dates aren’t ready, at the very least rush or give verbal warnings about the holiday. You don’t always know what traditions people have on certain holidays, so you want to be able to give enough warning about the big day.

Balance Theme with Tradition

Holidays make things more fun- and most holidays have specific themes or activities associated with them (we’ve had a few on our minds!). It’s a good idea to nod to the holiday, but remember that the focus is on your wedding! Having sparklers and fireworks at a Fourth of July wedding is cute and appropriate (and pretty magical!). Doing a BBQ with hawaiian shirts and cargo shorts? Maybe save that one for a regular BBQ.

Give Some Space

Since certain holidays may mean a lot to some people. While you need to give your guests heads up, you may also want to give them some time to themselves to celebrate however they need to. It can be beneficial to have a later start time for your wedding. This is particularly important if your wedding falls on a religious-based holiday. It’s best to always be respectful to everyone you invite and let them celebrate the day their way (before celebrating your day!).

Play with Traditions

If there are any foods associated with your holiday wedding, do fun versions of them! Traditional foods are great, but elevated twists make them memorable. Doing a pumpkin pie-inspired wedding cake on Thanksgiving would give all your guests a great flavor profile for the special day. Think about what traditionally gets served during that holiday, and do fun twists on them!

Keep it Going Afterwards

Keep the holiday involved when you do your thank you cards! While creating or finding the thank you cards for your guests, keep the holiday in mind. If you have a Fourth of July wedding for example, you can have graphics of fireworks around the pictures or inside the card. Keep the memories going and let your guests remember the unique awesome way they spent that holiday!

Top Five Fourth of July Staples for Your Wedding

We LOVE the Fourth of July. The BBQs, the Fireworks, the day off (whoohoo!). Overall, it’s a fantastic time that everyone enjoys. Sound familiar? It’s got the same ‘good times all around’ vibe of a wedding! Why not merge the two a little to make your wedding that much more fun?

Pack a Punch

Add this to the buffet or to tables- make your famous punch! Punch is such a great BBQ drink that brings everyone back to childhood summers. Opt for something refreshing and red (that screams Fourth of July). If you want to do something a little more elevated, do some fruit punch with some freshly sliced lime wheels in it. It’s up to you whether or not you want to spike it.

Dine Picnic Style

If you love the BBQ aspect of the Fourth of July, trade out the silky linens for more picnic-y linens. A thicker crisp linen with some red or blue stripes screams Fourth of July fun and makes the table look much more inviting. Think gingham-chic and you’re all set! Bonus points if you get a similar (if not the same) fabric as a napkin to wrap your silverware.

Grill It Up

Want to give your guests the festive flavor of the Fourth? Have an on-site grill going! Even if it’s not necessarily hot dogs and hamburgers, you can throw steaks or veggie kabobs on the grill. Grills are fun, interactive, and create a fantastic flavor profile for anything that is thrown on there. Plus that smoky scent will get all your guests excited for food!

Add a Spark

If your wedding goes into the night, pass out sparklers when the sun starts to set. Little ones are easy to obtain, have a low risk of any damages or fires, and look amazing in photos. You and your fiance have clearly had some sparks in your relationship, why not spread the love? Its basically a tiny firework you can hold in your hand, how awesome is that?

Spark Something Bigger

This is a splurge, but if you can pull it off it will be legendary. There is a trend of having fireworks incorporated into the actual wedding festivities and it ALWAYS wows. It’s a big magical explosion that makes everyone feel like a child in awe of the sky. It’s a Fourth of July staple and it’s on the top of our wedding wish list. Yes, sparklers are an awesome homage, but actual fireworks completely blow everything else away.


Three Tactful Ways to Say “No” to Wedding Guests

Weddings are fantastic- but keep in mind, if you’re the bride then it’s your show! It can be hard to say ‘no’ to your wedding guests, but at the end of the day your word should be final. We’ve got tactful ways to get out of certain scenarios.

When a Guest Wants to Bring An Extra Person

Maybe your brother rsvp’d as a single, but suddenly wants his new girlfriend (or worse- his old frat buddy) to be his plus-one. Yikes! What do you do? Simply explain to him that the meal count and chairs have already been locked in. Even if he says that his plus one won’t be hungry, he really can’t get around not having anywhere for his plus one to sit. If you want to extend a sweet gesture, you can tell him that if anyone suddenly can’t make it you can give him a heads up, but say that the guest list is pretty much locked in.

When an Out-of-Town Guest Wants to Crash on Your Couch

You’re going to be busy enough with your own wedding craziness to deal with any couch surfers- do NOT put the burden of hosting out of towners on top of everything! Instead of ok-ing everyone that wants a free place to crash, just explain that you don’t have the space to house any out-of-towners. You can say that if you let one person crash, you’d need to let everyone crash and you simply don’t have room. You can say that you’re using your house to house a lot of the wedding craziness so the whole place is going to be a mess. You can also suggest nearby hotels for any guests who may need it. Just be firm- you really don’t need any friends raiding your fridge while you’re planning a wedding!

When a Guest Wants to Bring Kids (and it’s not a kid-friendly wedding)

Sure, kids are cute and sweet, but weddings aren’t always where a kid has the most fun. If you’re throwing a wedding that’s aimed at an adults-only crowd, it can be hard to explain to adults not to bring their little ones. If anyone’s trying to bring their little ones to the grown up’s table, simply explain to them that the event will be a more mature event and that it may not be kid-paced. Parents understand how a kid’s attention span works and may take that as it won’t be engaging enough for younger ones. You can also mention that there will be liquor and you wouldn’t want any unattended drinks to end up in the hands of any children (mai tais always look fun to younger kids…). Safety is always a priority for parents, and you want to frame this as you looking out for their best interest.


Weddings at Center Club in Costa Mesa, California

Can Wednesday morning be any more fabulous than this? Today is a day of drooling over and obsessing over a fabulous venue found in the Orange County Performing Arts Center located in Costa Mesa, California. This lovely venue is none other than the Center Club.  This stunning venue is unique in that it offers a beautifully shaped ballroom to hold a ceremony or reception. It is not your typical ballroom! There is also a gorgeous outdoor area that is perfect for a ceremony or cocktail hour. What we love about this venue is it’s gorgeously designed style, impeccable service, and oh-so-amazingly delicious cuisine. If you want to feel like a million bucks or more, then this is the place to consisder for your wedding day. We are not joking, it is that amazing!

Christopher Todd Photography

Christopher Todd Studios

Photography: Brett Hickman Photographers

Photography: Brett Hickman Photographers

Photography: Brett Hickman Photographers

Photography: Brett Hickman Photographers

Lily Stein Photography

Lily Stein Photography

Lily Stein Photography

Lily Stein Photography

Photography: Brett Hickman Photographers

Photography: Brett Hickman Photographers

Jaime Davis Photography

Jaime Davis Photography

Christopher Todd Photography

Christopher Todd Studios

Jaime Davis Photography

Jaime Davis Photography


About Center Club

 Center Club’s NEWLY REINVENTED Private Ballroom is set on the garden level of the Center Tower, adjacent to the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa. We recently were awarded the Association of Bridal Consultants Trendsetter Award for Best New Venue.

Center Club offers both indoor and outdoor options for Ceremony and Reception. Center Club is a full service private club and does provide all food and beverages needed for wedding events. Executive Chef Lewis Butler is happy to customize menus to suit specific tastes and preferences for weddings… the options are limitless. Center Club also allows outside catering when needed. 

Center Club’s wedding packages make planning the catering and venue seamless and easy.  All of our INCLUSIVE packages include valet parking, champagne toast, custom wedding cake, a brand new white dance floor, service charge and sales tax. Additionally, each package specifically outlines the food and beverages that are included.

The Center Club Styled Shoot – Costa Mesa, CA from Expressionary Events on Vimeo.

Top Five Tips for Seating Charts

Seating charts can be a much harder task to take on than you realize- you need to weigh out who can sit with who, where to put kids, and who needs to be closest to you. It can be pretty hectic! We’ve got some tips to help you keep your cool while you figure out where everyone can go.

Make a Model

It can help to physically put people where they need to be. Print out the layout of the seating area (if you’re doing your ceremony at a hotel they usually have pre-made layouts of where tables will go) and use post-it tabs or push pins to place people. Being able to physically see where everyone will go will give you some clarity and make it easier to move people around.

Make a “No-No” List

Do you have some people who REALLY can’t be seated near each other? It happens! Look over your guest list and highlight anyone who needs to sit somewhere… specific. You can place those people first so that you know there won’t be any unnecessary drama or fighting. Don’t feel like you can’t invite people because they may have issues with other guests, just keep them separated and enjoy yourself. After all, the wedding’s about love and harmony. Keep the peace the best way you can.

Consider Foot Traffic

Are you having a buffet? A drink bar? Any sort of thing where guests will need to be getting up and walking around? Keep that area a little extra clear. If you can foresee a path that your guests will need to be taking, maybe have tables scooched a little more out of the way. Better yet, keep people who are younger and able to move at those tables. You shouldn’t put your 80 year old grandmother at a table where she would need to be moving her chair out of the way for other guests.

Plan Kids Accordingly

Think about any little ones that will be in attendance. Are they going to want to play together? Are their parents going to want to keep them nearby? Kid’s tables can be great to keep all the little ones entertained, but you wouldn’t want their parents to be stressed out trying to watch their kids from across the room. Figure out what kind of parents and kids are going to be there and think about what would work best for them. Just be sure to stock that table with extra napkins for messier little ones.

Plan for Yourself

Think about who you want closest to you. Do you want to do a sweetheart table? Or a big wedding party table? Maybe a table with the parents and the newlyweds? Think about what YOU want most. After all, it’s your wedding! We do suggest that you have your maid of honor as close as possible for anything you may want or need. She’s your wingwoman for a reason- keep her close!


Five Ways to Involve Your Dad in Your Wedding

Bridal hot list is made up of people who really love their dads- so we’re all super excited for Father’s Day! In honor of the upcoming holiday, we’ve got a few ways to work your dad into your wedding in ways that’ll make him feel loved.

Make Him Feel at Home

Does your dad have a routine of some kind? Maybe a favorite mug or a specific kind of coffee he totally needs after dinner? Do something sweet for him and make it happen at your wedding! We recently saw a bride who made a beautiful seat sign for her father’s chair that said ‘Dad’ on it, and it was so sweet! Do something small and specifically for him and it’ll make him feel at home and appreciated.

Boogie Bonding

The father-daughter dance is a fantastic tradition for a reason- it’s a sweet moment between father and daughter in front of all their loved ones! Get together and pick a song that means a lot to both of you. If you have time, figure out ways to make your dance fun! A little choreography never hurt anyone, right? You can count it towards your cardio and get a chance to see dear old dad dance. Everybody wins!

Sneak a Special Note

Write out a short note to your dad, and be sure to thank him. This day is all about how you fell in love and are going to start your own family now, it’s important to recognize where you came from. If you feel stuck, tell him how much it means to have him there and that you love him. It doesn’t need to be sappy, it just needs to be genuine. Sneak it into his jacket while he’s dancing or stick it under his plate so he finds it after dinner.

Coordinate Outfits

Help him pick out his suit! You’ll be able to help control the color scheme of the wedding, and be sure he looks great walking you down the aisle. Going shopping with your girlfriends is a great way to bond, why not go shopping with your dad as well? It’ll help him take care of a wedding task, you get to assist in making sure he looks sharp, plus you get time to bond. You’ll wonder why you don’t take your dad out shopping more often!

Let Him Call Some Shots

Let him have one song for sure play during the reception. Let him be the tie-breaker on any decisions you’re unsure on. Ask him his opinion on what to serve for dinner. Dads love being involved and getting heard. It may be a weird time for him to realize you may not be all his little girl anymore- it’s a good gesture to show that he’s still a big part of your life and that you still trust his opinion.


Top Five Tips for Finding Your Wedding Scent

Beauty products are part of the fun of a wedding- even if they’re beauty products you can’t necessarily see! Perfume and fragrance is an instant way to elevate your outfit and your whole attitude. Finding a signature scent or even a special event scent can be tricky, but we’re here to help.

Know What You’re Working With

Do you have your flower palette yet? Make sure that you know what scents will already be in the wedding! Pairing sweet sugary scents with a ton of flowers may drown out your scent. If you’re doing an outdoor woodsy wedding, a sweet sugary scent will contrast much more and be more noticeable. Figure out what kind of impression you want to leave- whether it’s a bold signature scent or a subtle scent. From there it’ll be easy to narrow down scent palettes.

Do Research

If you have an idea of what kind of scent you like, hit the web in search of what people are suggesting. If you want something earthy and romantic, search for scents described with those same words. Write down all your findings for when you hit the perfume counter. It’s best to come prepared so you don’t get overwhelmed!

Have a “Scent-Tasting”

Hit up a perfume counter or a specialty beauty store (like Ulta or Sephora) with your list of perfumes to try. Don’t wear a scent just yet though- spray them far away from your body and clothes onto a paper scent stick. Do your best to not let any scents linger on your clothes or skin! If they stick to you, it may alter the way you smell a scent. Bring a pen so you can write down what scents are on what stick if you need to- it’s easy to get them mixed up!

Ask For Samples

Narrow your scent sticks down to three that you like. Once you figure out three that you like, ask for samples of them. Most perfume lines send a TON of samples out to their retailers for this very purpose. Just be polite and mention that you want to be sure that the scent is right for you so you don’t have to return it later.


Take a Test Drive

Once you have samples of all of your scents, dedicate one day to wearing each one. Spritz in the morning on your wrists and neck, and keep note of how it smells on your skin throughout the day. Perfume changes along with you, so you won’t go to bed with the same scent you put on in the morning. Take note of any feedback you get on your scent and how you feel about it. Remember to take note if you need to reapply or if a light spritz is too much for you. You can even enlist a good friend to help judge the different scents. Keep in mind that everyone’s body chemistry is different, so fragrances will smell different on different people.


Five Tips for Planning with Long Distance Bridesmaids

Is your bridal party scattered across the state? Across the nation? Never fear, Bridal Hot List is here! It’s very common to have bridesmaids who aren’t in town. Maybe they’re your besties from back home or your college roommates who left for a new city. Whatever the case, it happens and you know it doesn’t lessen the friendship! The distance may pose some challenges, but we’re here to help. Consider us your bonus bridesmaid!


Schedule Touch Bases

Sure it may feel a little formal, but it’s necessary for keeping everyone up to date! Set up Skype or facetime dates with anyone you can’t grab coffee with at the same time every week leading up to the wedding. It’s good if you have some sort of agenda to go over- dresses, shoes, bachelorette party details, whatever it is you should have some idea of what you need to discuss. Let her know that the talks will be totally wedding-based so she has some idea of what’s going to happen. It helps you both be prepared and keeps you from digressing.

Use the Buddy System

If you have more than one long distance bridesmaid in the same city, say you have a few bridesmaids from your hometown but you live farther away, have them buddy up. Have them keep each other accountable to any tasks they’re responsible and to be there for each other. If your bridesmaids are more spread out, ask for help from your maid of honor. She may have more time to track down long distance bridesmaids and can help out with scheduling or wedding questions. Plus, you’ll get the chance to have your bridesmaids bond (which we love!).

Be Accessible

If you can, be able to facetime or Skype in when your bridesmaid goes bridesmaid dress shopping. If she has any questions, be there to help her. It can be hard to get ready for a friend’s wedding from afar (particularly if there’s a time difference between you two!), so do what you can to be there for her. If you have an email address set up for your wedding, have it go to your phone so you can field any questions remotely.

Help Plan When You Can

Be flexible, but know that you’ll probably need your bridal party at least a few days before the wedding, if not a whole week. If your long distance bridesmaid can’t afford that many days off work, schedule the big events to have her there. Be involved in her travel plans so you know what to expect when she’s around. The more connected you two can be in planning, the more smoothly your plans will go!

Be Thankful

It’s hard being a part of an event from afar- this girl’s got to have put in some work to be a part of it all! When you’re thinking about your bridal party gifts, think about something for her. Maybe a nice webcam so you two can skype or an airline voucher so you can see each other soon. Be thoughtful, she has had to be very thoughtful on her end as well. Being a part of a wedding is stressful as is, but adding travel on top of it makes it a bigger deal. Let her know that you appreciate her. Remember, manners and a ‘thank you’ go a long way.