Stress-free Tips for Seating Your Wedding Reception Guests by Kristen Bradley

If you’re in the last 30-days of wedding planning, you’re probably starting to think about seating assignments, and we’re here to help!  Assigning seats can be complex, and truthfully a little bit stressful depending on the dynamics within families or friend groups.  Additionally, if you are serving a plated meal, (vs. buffet or family style), you will want to be precise with just where everyone will placed.  Read on for our top tips on how to seat your guests.

Scottsdale Arizona Wedding Planner

Start Early

Set a deadline for your final RSVPs to arrive with enough time to work through your seating chart with at least a couple of weeks to spare before your big day.  There are couples who have been down to the wire the night before taking their first stab at the seating arrangements, and this added stress can simply be avoided with some advanced planning.  You will definitely make some last minute changes, but get started on your first draft with time to space. 

Map it Out

As wedding planners, we are visual people, and we like using our internal software to actually see just where everyone will be.  If you’re not working with a wedding planner, we recommend using a spreadsheet to list each of your guests, and generally breakdown which group of people they belong to, including family, friends, colleagues, and others sub-groups.  Next, find some old-fashioned drafting paper, and a number 2 pencil and sketch the arrangement of the tables and other pieces of furniture from a bird’s eye view, just like a floor-plan.  From here, you’ll be able to map out logical seating arrangements, and can easily make edits when needed. There are lots of digital options online as well, just search “wedding seating chat tool”.

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Seat Yourselves and Your Wedding Party First

There are lots of options for you and your new spouse’s seat at your reception.  Traditionally, a head table is long and rectangular, (not round), and your wedding party will sit along one side facing out towards the other guests with you two in the middle.  These days, while this is still a great option, it’s more flexible, and you get to create the dining experience you really want!  Consider if you’d like to be seated alone at a sweetheart table, or if you’d like to be surrounded instead by your wedding party.  Another point to consider is if you’d like your bridesmaids all on one side, and groomsmen on the other, or if you will invite dates to the head table with everyone sitting intermixed.  Once you have this point of your seating chart settled, you can set the rest of the framework for the remaining guests.  

Seat Your Parents

Depending on your family dynamics, or the size of your wedding, you can choose to have your parents sit with your new spouse’s parents, along with your siblings, and your officiant.  On the other hand, if your parents, or your spouse’s parents are divorced, or if your parents prefer to sit with their close friends, you can also opt to give each parent or set of parents their own table.  Remember that parent-seating is flexible, and you can set it up depending on whatever works best for everyone.  If you’re not sure, talk to the parents in question before making your final decision.  

Scottsdale Arizona Wedding Planner

Dissolve Tension Before it Starts

Unfortunately, as many of us know, there may be situations where certain family members or friends do not get along.  It’s possible they haven’t spoken in years or it’s possible that the last time your family members were at a wedding, there was a fight.  Whatever the scenario, consider the various relationships, (or lack there of), when placing guests.  If you do find yourself in this predicament, take our advice, and seat these guests on opposite side of the reception hall.  Trust us, they will appreciate it. 

Scottsdale Arizona Wedding Planner

Sydney and Doug's wedding photos were taken by Daniel Kim and their floral was designed by Fiori Floral.  

Sip and Twirl is a passionate and creative group of wedding planners.  We are located in Scottsdale, Arizona, and whether you have just started envisioning your big day, or are in the thick of planning, we'd love to hear from you!  We plan for both small and large scale weddings, and genuinely love what we do.  Reach out to us at (480) 648-0663 or email us at info@sipandtwirl.com.

Rock Your Engagement Photoshoot with these Top Tips! by Kristen Bradley

Our brides and grooms agree, having your engagement photos taken is actually a blast!  However, lack of planning and preparation can make for a stressful experience.  Here are a few of our expert tips to make sure your engagement session goes smoothly, and leaves you both smiling.

Hire Your Photographer

Ok, we will admit, this is the most obvious tip, but if you haven’t already, hire a photographer well in advance.  Many couples opt to use the same photographer for their engagement photos as they do for their wedding day, and great photographers are scooped up quickly.  Lots of photographers will offer engagement photos as a part of one of their wedding package, and if you’d like to go this route, start making calls shortly after your engagement. 

Photo by Jane in the Woods

Photo by Jane in the Woods

Trust your Photographer

Trust your photographer and their creative abilities.  Review their portfolio in advance of your shoot, and choose your favorite photos from their collection.  Additionally, let them know why you love their style, as this feedback will give them valuable direction.  Do you love their use of color?  What about how they incorporate landscapes into their images?  Can you not get enough of their unique ability to capture a candid moment, or do you prefer a more formal setting?  After you give them this feedback, let go in the moment, and trust in the creative process. 

Photo by Andrew Jade

Photo by Andrew Jade

Take Time to Plan

Plan some of the details in advance to avoid rushing and stress on the day of your shoot.  Pick out the location of your photos, your outfit, (or outfits), and decide how you will style your look.  Drop your clothes off at the dry cleaners, and make sure to try them on side-by-side to ensure your looks coordinate.  For ladies, plan on needing additional time on hair and makeup, or better yet, book your wedding trial hair and make-up the morning of your engagement shoot and let the pros pamper you!  To get even more milage on your look, plan a hot date with your partner after your session wraps up.

Photo by Bradford Jones

Photo by Bradford Jones

Here's our Outfit Advice

If you are taking some of your photos in the beautiful Arizona desert, we recommend staying away from greens and browns, (except for shoes/accessories), and busy patterns.  Instead, opt for a neutral or pastel look.  You can throw in a pop of color with your accessories, and of course you can really personalize your look with something out-of-the-box like an ornate head or hair piece.  Heels always class up any photo, and you will get an instant confidence boost while rocking a special pair of shoes.  You literally cannot go too formal!  The contrast of a beautiful suit and gown will look stunning in any setting. More than anything though, you need to feel great!  If you don’t feel comfortable in your outfit, this will come across in your photos, so choose something that brings out your inner and outer beauty. 

Photo by Magda Zofia

Photo by Magda Zofia

Pack a Day Bag

Bring water, and pack a comfortable pair of shoes.  It’s important that you remain relaxed and hydrated throughout the day, as nothing will kill the energy of your photoshoot like physical discomfort.  If it’s especially warm, and you are taking photos outside, consider bringing an umbrella to block the sun, and a few snacks to keep you satiated.  A handheld mirror, and some supplies to touchup your look will come in handy as well.  Create a packing list in advance, and you will feel more relaxed that you have everything on hand needed to have a successful shoot.

Photo by Brittany Janelle

Photo by Brittany Janelle

Have Fun!

Finally, HAVE FUN!  Focus on what matters, the love that you share with your partner.  If you spend the day laughing and kissing, it will be difficult to take a bad photo.  Laugh and play in between planned shots, as a great photographer will recognize the spontaneous moments and will be able to capture them perfectly.  If you feel a bit nervous in front of the camera, just know that it’s totally normal, and ask your photographer to guide you.  Trust they have your best interests at heart, and will take more than a few stunning photos of you and your finance. 

Photo by Trevor Daley

Photo by Trevor Daley

Each of the photos included above is of a Sip and Twirl couple, and is by a photographer that we and our couples have genuinely enjoyed working with in the past.  If you are recently engaged, we'd love to hear from you, and help you find your dream photographer!  We specialize in full-service wedding planning, and are located in Scottsdale, Arizona.  Reach out to us anytime at (480) 648-0663 or at info@sipandtwirl.com.

Proposing this Fall? Start Planning with our Proposal Checklist! by Kristen Bradley

Fall has to be one of our very favorite times of the year.  While most people are starting to transition into the holiday season, we in the wedding industry are gearing up for engagement season, (eeeeeeek).  Gentlemen (and ladies!) far and wide are thinking about getting down on bended knee, and first, let us say, congratulations!  We are here to help you with the heavy lifting, and have included some important points below to consider when planning your perfect proposal.

Scottsdale Arizona Wedding Planner

Create a unique and thoughtful moment

Proposals don’t have to be over the top. In fact, many couple prefer to have a more intimate moment.  We recommend by starting to brainstorm ideas about anything that your partner loves.  Think about location, music, time of day, food and drink, ambiance, color, etc…  Does your partner like to keep things low key, or does your partner love to take the spotlight from time to time?  Taking a moment to write down all of these preferences will inspire your creativity.  Create a beautiful proposal story that you and your partner love to share throughout your engagement and onwards.  

Scottsdale Arizona Wedding Planner

Get their blessing

If you’re planning on asking a parent (or other close loved one’s) blessing for your spouse-to-be’s hand in marriage, it’s best to ask before you propose.  If you’re concerned that the proposal won't be kept a secret, make sure you ask them to keep it so, or consider speaking with them within a week of your planned proposal date so as to limit the opportunities for spilling the beans. 

Nail the timing

With all of the planning, (and post-engagement celebrating) that you are about to experience, you’ll want to be intentional about timing your proposal.  Is your partner in the midst of busy season at work and may be putting in some late hours?  Do you have an upcoming family gathering that you’d like to attend as a newly engaged couple?  Do you have upcoming holiday travel, or a close friend or family member’s wedding to consider so as not to steal any of the spotlight?  Take a good look at you and your partner’s calendar to make sure that you don’t have any responsibilities that may conflict with your proposal. 

Scottsdale Arizona Wedding Planner

Maintain an element of surprise

While your partner may be predicting a proposal in the near future, keep them guessing a little.  Having an element of surprise adds to the excitement and intensity of the moment.  If you have a big trip planned, and your partner suspects it may be during this time that you pop the question, consider doing it beforehand in just as beautiful of a way.  

Document the moment

Capturing special moments has never been easier, and you definitely don’t (necessarily) need to hire a professional photographer to get it right.  When you are planning out your proposal, make sure this detail is covered.  If you prefer to not film or photograph the moment, consider capturing your experience together in a journal immediately afterwards.  The actual moment will go by in a flash, and you’ll want to relive it over and over again in the years to come. 

Prepare for a Plan B

Take a moment to consider what you would do if Plan A wasn’t an option anymore.  This could be due to the weather, bad traffic, your partner having to work late or catching the seasonal flu.  Have a back up plan in place to avoid feeling disappointment or day-of panic that things aren’t going quite as planned.  When it comes to proposals, it’s always worth it to be fully prepared for your special moment.  

Scottsdale Arizona Wedding Planner

And now, for the ring…

Hopefully by now you have narrowed down a general idea for the ring of her dreams.  If you’re feeling stuck here, not to worry!  There are some great resources available to you to get on the right track.  If your fiancé-to-be has a Pinterest account, chances are, she has already pinned a few rings that have caught her eye, so you can start by checking out her boards.  If this leaves you with nothing, reach out to her bestie, or her sister if she has one and they are close.  It’s likely that she’s mentioned something to one of her closest friends about what she likes, (and doesn’t like!).  You can also take notice of what rings she usually wears to get a feel for the style, (ex: silver, gold, or rose gold), or the shape of the diamond or stone you plan to propose with.  

Scottsdale Arizona Wedding Planner

Chelsea and John's engagement photos were taken by Andrew Jade Photography in Tempe at the ASU campus.  

Sip and Twirl is a passionate and creative group of wedding planners.  We are located in Scottsdale, Arizona, and whether you have just started envisioning your proposal, or are in the thick of planning, we'd love to hear from you!  We plan for both small and large scale weddings, and genuinely love what we do.  Reach out to us at (480) 648-0663 or email us at info@sipandtwirl.com.

Prepare for these Potential Planning Woes by Kristen Bradley

The highs and lows of wedding planning are all a part of the natural planning process, and still we see many couples, (and their families), lose energy and time focusing on that which is out of their control.  Our first expert piece of advice is to embrace the planning process, and take it all one step at a time.  Our second expert tip is to do a bit of research in advance for some of these potential wedding planning pitfalls.  Some of these can be avoided by doing your due diligence, and for those out of your control, how you respond when faced with a mini-crisis can make all the difference in the outcome.  Read on to learn more about how you can glide with grace throughout the planning stages and come out on top for your big day.  

Hotel Overbooked and/or Venue Double Booked

“I’m sorry; we have no record of your wedding on our calendar, and the date has been booked by another couple.”  These words are the sounds of every bride’s worst nightmare.  If you feel you may be seeing some red flags in regards to your venue booking, it’s time to follow your gut and investigate further.  Some red flags may include having a difficult time getting in touch with the venue main point of contact, not receiving a counter-signed copy of your venue contract, encountering forgetful staff, or not receiving proof from your venue that your deposit was received.  If you’re experiencing any of these scenarios, it’s time to meet with your venue coordinator in person, and ensure that all of the proper documents and deposits have been received, are agreed upon by both parties, and importantly, that your date is secured.  

If your hotel is connected to your venue, you will want to look out for the same red flags as that with your venue.  If your hotel isn’t connected, there are ways that you can avoid rooms becoming overbooked and guests stranded.  One option is to reserve a room block for your guests, which would guarantee that your guests have access to book a room within the number that you’ve reserved in your block.  This generally requires the couple to guarantee that they will meet a minimum booking, and are held financially responsible if this requirement isn’t met.  Usually a hotel will allow you to scale up as needed, (based on availability), so you can start small and get a feel for what guest’s preferences are, and go from there.  If you don’t want to go this route, we recommend sending your Save the Dates with plenty of time before the wedding.  You can also call the hotels in advance of making your recommendations and ask about how many rooms are left for the night that you require.

Scottsdale Arizona Wedding Planner

Holiday Wedding Weekend Obstacles

Getting married over a holiday weekend can be super fun for both you and your guests.  Plus a long weekend gives your guests an extra day to travel without needing to request time-off formally.  However, there can also be a few obstacles to overcome when booking a holiday weekend.  For example, consider booking your wedding over Memorial Day or Labor Day.  Both of these days can be expensive travel dates with the increase in demand, making it difficult for guests traveling from out of town to attend if they are on a budget.  Or consider Valentine’s - not exactly an official government holiday, but one where some vendors, like florists, will be in high demand, and therefore less available.  Our advice is to go for it if booking on a holiday is important to you, but make sure that you allow additional time for planning not only for you, but out of consideration for you guests.  Send your Save the Dates with at least eight months advanced notice, and reach out to the major vendors a year or more out from your date.

Scottsdale Arizona Wedding Planner

Overcommitting Financially

The bad news is that this happens all the time, but the great news is that it can be completely avoided by taking a few steps before committing to the specifics of your wedding.  This may sound biased, but it’s worth mentioning.  Setting up a consultation with a wedding planner before you send Save the Dates, commit to any vendors, or choose a venue can save you thousands in the long run.  A great wedding planner will help set expectations in terms of costs, and from there you can make informed decisions about all of the details of your big day.  If you’ve already signed contracts, and are looking to cut costs as you get closer to your wedding day, think about some of the details that, while may be nice touches, ultimately do not impact the outcome of your wedding.  These things may include wedding favors or welcome bags, ceremony programs or an elaborate desert bar, for example.  

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Loss of Romance

In news you already knew, wedding planning can be stressful.  For some couples, the tension created in a short-lived, but high-pressure period of time can put a strain on a relationship.  While this is normal, it important to recognize it, and work through wedding planning with intention to keep the excitement in your relationship high.  Make sure that you make time for dates, keep in even better communication than you’re already used to, get active together, and even take a few weekends out of town to reconnect as a couple.  Another idea you can borrow is to write your vows privately early in the process, and then to each take an active role in living out these vows before your big day. 

Scottsdale Arizona Wedding Planner

Doing it Yourself

Sure, we are biased on this one, but think about it, do you really want to be the one that literally every person calls with every question and concern they can think of?  Probably not.  Of course you want to be involved in the major decisions, and even some of the seemingly smaller, insignificant ones, but there will be times that delegating tasks will be your planning M.O.  If you haven’t yet, reach out to your local wedding planner, and book a consultation to see what aspects of planning they can help you with so that you are free to enjoy the exciting aspects of your engagement.  A wedding planner can not only save you time, but with their insider knowledge of the industry, and their insights about various local vendors, they may even be able to save you thousands in the long term.  

Scottsdale Arizona Wedding Planner

Meghan and Brendan's wedding was photographed by Pinkerton Photography, with floral by Table Tops etc.  The bride and groom got married at Desert Foothills in north Scottsdale / Phoenix, Arizona.

While wedding planning has its ups and downs, the process should be joy-filled and FUN.  We at Sip and Twirl get jazzed about helping couples' enjoy the planning process and ultimately create the day of their dreams.  Reach out to us at info@sipandtwirl.com or 480-648-0663 to see if your date is available.  

Here are the Photos You'll Want Taken on Your Wedding Day by Kristen Bradley

Everyone that's been married before will tell you that your wedding day will go by in a flash, (pun intended!), and they're not wrong.  Having beautiful photographs to look back on and soak up all of the small details and big moments is important to many couples.  If this sounds like you, you'll want to make sure your photographer captures everything.  Most seasoned professional wedding photographers will already have these shots scheduled for your big day, but if you're saving a bit of money by going with someone new to the industry, or a friend or acquaintance, we've assembled our must-have photos for your viewing pleasure!  Check out these beautiful photos from Laura and Jen's north Scottsdale wedding taken this past spring.

1. Ring Shot

desert mountain wedding planner scottsdale arizona

2. Invitation Collection

desert mountain wedding planner scottsdale arizona

3. Bridal Bouquet

desert mountain wedding planner scottsdale arizona
desert mountain wedding planner scottsdale arizona

4. Glam Squad

Desert Mountain Scottsdale Wedding Planner

5. Hair Moment

desert mountain wedding planner scottsdale arizona

6. The Dress

desert mountain wedding planner scottsdale arizona

7. Bride(s) with Bridesmaids

Desert Mountain Scottsdale Wedding Planner
bridesmaids 2.jpg
bridesmaids 3.jpg

8. Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue

Scottsdale Wedding Planner
Scottsdale Wedding Planner
Scottsdale Wedding Planner

9. The Moment Before the Moment

Desert Mountain Scottsdale Wedding Planner

10. First Look

Desert Mountain Scottsdale Wedding

11. Ceremony Views

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12. Exchanging Vows

Desert Mountain Wedding Planner

13. The Kiss

Scottsdale wedding planner

14. Secluded Moments

Scottsdale Arizona Wedding Planner
Scottsdale Arizona Wedding Planner

15. Escort Cards

Scottsdale Arizona Wedding Planner

16. Decoration Details

Scottsdale Arizona Wedding Planner

17. Table Setting

Desert Mountain Scottsdale Wedding Planner Arizona
Scottsdale Arizona Wedding Planner

18. Centerpieces

Scottsdale Arizona Wedding Planner

19. First Dance

Scottsdale Arizona Wedding Planner

20. The Cake

Scottsdale Arizona Wedding Planner
Scottsdale Arizona Wedding Planner

21. Dancing the Night Away

Scottsdale Arizona Wedding Planner

Jen and Laura's wedding was photographed by Elyse Hall, with floral by Fiori Floral.  The brides held their wedding at Desert Mountain, in north Scottsdale, Arizona.  

Sip and Twirl is a passionate and creative group of wedding planners.  We are located in Scottsdale, Arizona, and whether you have just started envisioning your dream wedding day, or are in the thick of planning, we'd love to hear from you!  We plan for both small and large scale weddings, and genuinely love what we do.  Reach out to us at (480) 648-0663 or email us at info@sipandtwirl.com.