planning

Alencia + Rick Southern-Chic Estate Wedding

The Washington’s were married on March 3, 2017 at The Estate at Piedmont in Buckhead, Atlanta, Georgia.

Like all things in life, love rarely provides straight path from point A to point B. It is full of twists and turns, lessons to learn, and opportunities to grow before you end up where you were always supposed to be. Alencia and Rick’s love followed that twisty path, but it’s the reason their love story is one of my favorites.

The two grew up together and have known each other most of their lives. They attended the same church and the same elementary school… Rick was actually Alencia’s first crush! But, like all kids do, they grew up and went their separate ways. Years later, they reconnected and went on their first dinner date. Both were full of jitters as they sat across the table from one another. Once they realized they each still said the prayer they learned at their childhood church, so many years ago, they erupted into laughter and all of their jitters were gone. Alencia went home that night knowing that Rick was the one.
Alencia and Rick pledged vows to their son Joe. I think everyone in attendance would agree that it was one of the sweetest and most memorable moments of the day. So much of their relationship has been dedicated to ensuring his happiness and security, that including him in the ceremony was important to them both.

Alencia’s advice to a bride planning her day: “Let people help you! Choose your vendors carefully. I was blessed to have vendors that felt like family. You know yourselves, your friends and family. You know the type of energy you want in your space. Choose vendors that will add to your natural energy.

Don’t stress the small stuff. Get a fantastic planner and let them do their job. Things have a way of working themselves out.

And most importantly, when you wake up the morning of your special day, spend as much time alone as you can. Meditate, take a long shower/bath, breathe deeply. Do whatever you need to do to center yourself. Anything that isn’t done by now isn’t important. You’ve been planning this day for months or maybe your entire life. Remain calm and enjoy it. You don’t want your memories to be full of anxiety and drama. When you get to the venue, give your phone to your calmest bridesmaid and enjoy YOUR DAY!

TRUSTED VENDORS:  Planning: Lynette Allan Events // Venue:  The Estate // Bridal Attire: Bridal by Lori // Makeup:  Terrelle Hunt Esthetics // Hair:  Shana Kersey // Musician: Q. Parker of 112 // DJ:  B. Brian // Cake: Legendary Events // Catering: Legendary Events // Video:  H&H Studios // Invitation Suite:  Papered Wonders

Posted by the Photographer ELLE DANIELLE

Alencia + Rick Cinematic from H & H Studios on Vimeo.

The Engagement Ring Guide – Part 2

The perfect engagement ring will make your big moment shine even brighter. Use this guide as you start your quest to buy the right engagement ring for your future bride.

You’ve decided to pop the question — the question, the one that will change everything. But before you can start planning your happily-ever-after with your future bride, you have a little shopping to do.

It’s natural to feel overwhelmed by how much you need to learn when you set out to buy a diamond engagement ring. Technical information about the 4Cs, conflicting information about how much you need to spend, and hundreds of different styles and options can quickly confuse you.

Use this guide as your starting point to orient yourself to the vast world of diamond engagement rings. We’ll help you understand where to start, and what to consider, before you make your final decision.

Style before science

Buying a diamond engagement ring is nothing like any other purchase you’ve made. There are countless variables that affect beauty, quality and cost. It’s not like buying a car, where you get virtually the same thing every time, with a few options or add-ons. Every diamond is unique, and the ring in which the diamond is set presents countless options as well.

Many people focus first on diamond quality — the “grade” of a diamond based on the 4Cs of color, clarity, carat weight and cut — before they shop for style. The 4Cs were originally conceived as an educational tool to convey why a diamond cost so much. They’re valuable for understanding tradeoffs when buying a diamond within your budget.

But once your fiancée puts the ring on her finger, she isn’t going to go around showing people her “E color, VS1 clarity, 1.2-ct., thick-girdle” diamond ring. She’s going to show off her beautifully designed and brilliantly sparkling engagement ring.

That’s why we recommend focusing first on finding the perfect style for your fiancée — and then finding the right diamond to fit that style. Consider the following options when considering the right engagement ring style.


Diamonds and Gemstones

  • A Diamond Solitaire Is your fiancée interested in a simple and elegant diamond solitaire — a single diamond showcased in a metal band?
  • A Ring with Side Diamonds or Colored GemstonesWould she like an engagement ring with side diamonds or side color gemstones for added dazzle or color?
  •  A Halo RingShe might want a halo ring, which has one center diamond surrounded by smaller diamonds.
  • A Diamond Engagement BandDoes she want a diamond engagement band instead of a ring with larger center stones?
  • Color Gemstones or Color DiamondsDo you think your fiancée-to-be would prefer color gemstones or color diamonds instead of white diamonds in her engagement ring?

Shapes

If you decide to go with a center-stone diamond or a ring with side stones, you’ll have a lot of choices when it comes to choosing the shape of your diamonds or gemstones. Your choices include:

  • Round
  • Princess
  • Emerald
  • Marquise
  • Oval
  • Pear
  • Heart

Metals

What metal color and type best fits your fiancée’s style and taste? Do you think she would prefer:

  • PlatinumThe hard, modern look of platinum?
  • White GoldThe softer and contemporary look of white gold?
  • Yellow GoldThe classic yet fashionable look of yellow gold?
  • Rose GoldThe unique and romantic look of rose gold?

Settings

What diamond or gemstone setting is right for your bride-to-be’s engagement ring? Do you think she’d like:

  • ProngThe clean and classic look of a prong setting?
  • ChannelThe extra flash and flair of a channel setting?
  • PavéThe glamorous look of a pavé setting?
  • BezelThe contemporary, striking look of a bezel setting?

Styles

There are as many engagement ring styles as there are personalities in the world. How do you find the one that’s right for your bride-to-be? Start by narrowing down what her personality and style call for:

  • Modern & Classic
  • Vintage-Inspired
  • Clean & Minimalist
  • Glamorous & Ornate
  • Traditional & Understated
  • Dramatic & Unique

The Quest for Quality

Once you’ve narrowed down your style choices, it’s time to start thinking about getting the best quality for your budget.

In the world of engagement rings (and all jewelry, really), quality equals beauty. The higher quality a diamond is, the more beautiful — and the more expensive — it will be. That’s the general rule, anyway. The reality is that you can get a beautiful diamond engagement ring by making simple tradeoffs. We judge diamond quality by the 4Cs:

  • ColorA diamond’s quality is based in part on how white it is. A D grade is the whitest; a Z grade is perfectly yellow. Color changes between D and H are virtually indistinguishable with the naked eye.
  • ClarityThis “C” measures how many internal blemishes, or “inclusions,” a diamond has. While clarity affects a diamond’s perceived quality and price, most inclusions don’t really affect a how a diamond takes in and returns light, which makes it look like it’s lit from within.
  • Carat weightThis “C” is pretty easy to understand: the bigger the diamond, the more expensive it is. However, size alone doesn’t always equal beauty.
  • CutThe way a diamond is cut and proportioned affects how the light shines through it. Well-cut diamonds tend to be more expensive, but they also have more play of light and dazzle, so you can compromise on other “Cs” and still get a gorgeous diamond.

Have your jeweler show you the diamond through a loupe or gemological microscope, and pay attention to how precisely the diamond’s angles are cut, whether there are glaringly visible inclusions and other visual variables that affect a diamond’s beauty. Then, compare how the diamond shines compared to diamonds graded at higher and lower quality. Stand across the room to test the how it looks. Ultimately, you want to choose your diamond based on its beauty.


Finding the right jeweler for your engagement ring purchase

You can spend weeks educating yourself about diamonds, but ultimately getting the best quality and value when buying an engagement ring comes down to trust. When shopping for an engagement ring, look for a jeweler who will:

  1. Express interest in your fiancée-to-be’s unique personality and style, and emphasize what she wants.
  2. Show you the diamond through a gemological microscope or loupe to educate you about cut.
  3. Help you quickly narrow down your options for style.
  4. Focus on helping you find the right style and quality for the price — the best value you can get.

Now that you have the lay of the land: go have fun! This is a chance for you to spend some time thinking about the woman who will be your wife, and the ring you choose should celebrate her personality and spirit with a unique and special symbol of your love. Best of luck!

You’ve Probably Never Thought of This Easy Way to Pay for Your Wedding

article originally posted on the KNOT

Keeping track of payments for your wedding isn’t always easy, which is why PayPal will be your new favorite solution.

It’s no secret that weddings are a check-predominant industry, but in this digital age, remembering to have your checkbook on hand for all of your payments, day of and otherwise, can be a hassle—plain and simple. And that’s where PayPal, an online money transfer, can become the easiest tool to help you keep track of it all—plus you won’t have to worry about a literal paper trail.

With 169 million active accounts (and counting), 203 markets and 26 accepted currencies, PayPal is one of the most widely known, global e-payment brands, so it’s no wonder couples all over the world are using the website and app as super-simple ways to pay for their weddings. This goes hand in hand with the increase in millennial couples using their smartphones to plan their wedding, doubling from 2011 (33 percent) to 2014 (61 percent).

“With wedding vendors, you have multiple payments, deposits and day-of checks to write, making it hard to remember whom you paid what to when,” says Amanda Miller, PayPal’s head of global communications and wedding guru. “All of your transactions are recorded with PayPal, so you can clearly see your payment history, and you don’t have to worry about carrying cash or checks around. The site and app are also completely secure and protected, making it the safest way to pay vendors without having to worry about a lost check or confusing the florist’s envelope with the caterer’s envelope.”

Another PayPal perk is PayPal Credit. The tool is interest free for six months, making it an inexpensive way to use credit.

“Accustomed to paying digitally, I paid for my wedding band with PayPal Credit,” Miller says. “It’s the way of doing business in the future. Using PayPal marks a 35 percent increase in sales for vendors, since you can be approved at checkout and it takes less than a minute. Hardly any wait time means more sales for vendors, which is great because it’s a largely entrepreneur community and helps to grow businesses in a smart, modern way. They also don’t have to wait for checks to clear with the peer-to-peer payment option.”

Whether you just want to use the peer-to-peer payment option or PayPal Credit, to-be-weds can be in control of their entire financial process this way. This means cutting out any potentially uncomfortable exchanges of checks and cash with your parents, using the flexible credit line built into your PayPal account for any unexpected expenses, and sending instant deposits to vendors you love before they get booked up, plus pooling expenses for the bachelorette and bachelor parties without any hassle.

San Francisco–based bride Andi Teggart is a frequent PayPal user who’s using its tools for her wedding day (fun fact—she actually met her fiance at a concert two years ago when she used her PayPal app to buy beers for a group, including him!). After getting tired of vendors asking for checks, she started using PayPal to purchase items for her wedding and plans on paying her vendors on the day of the wedding with the app.

“I used PayPal to purchase two beautiful gifts—floral silk robes and these amazing gold bracelets—for my bridesmaids off of Etsy,” Teggart says. “It was much quicker to pay via PayPal than dig out my credit card! And one of the most fun wedding to-dos that we’ve used PayPal for has been our wedding dance class. We took a class at a local dance studio in San Francisco and the only way to pay for the class was via PayPal, which was totally fine on our end. We’ve used PayPal for smaller wedding purchases too, like buying pretty stamps off of eBay, and the guys will be able to use PayPal next week to pay each other back after the bachelor party festivities.”

Miller also used the peer-to-peer tool for her wedding day payments and found it to be a much better experience than relying on checks. “PayPal just makes everything so much easier,” she says. “The process of paying for things is the worst part of getting married, and this way, it’s a win-win for everyone.”