10 tips for navigating Pinterest wedding inspiration

I was recently reflecting on this amazing blush and silver inspirational wedding shoot I worked on this winter. We were so, so lucky to feature a couple that had just recently gotten married, and they were so excited about the looks we had put together for them!

But while we were working on the styled shoot, it hit me square in the face that so many of my clients see these inspiration shoots and think of them as real weddings! EEK!!!!

Styled shoots are beautiful, but they can make it really difficult for brides who are taking inspiration from Pinterest these days. As part of our process, Celebrations of Love’s clients walk through the details of their wedding and I will then find ideas that are realistic within their budget and keep potential vendors in mind. But for a bride that does not have a planner to walk through this process with her, I wanted to share some tips on how to navigate Pinterest.

Do not get me wrong here—Pinterest is a GREAT tool for inspiration after a budget has been established and discussed.

While scrolling through Pinterest, here are a few important things to think about:

1. Be realistic. How many people have you invited? Do you want to set up 250 mini succulent plants with flags in them for an escort table? Do you want to make all of those flags with the corresponding table number and guest name? Maybe you can have a generic one at each place setting. But then what type of container are you going to put it in? If the container has a hole in the bottom, do you want dirt to end up on your table linens? Also, calligraphy on leaves!!! It looks amazing but would be really great on just the head table or parents’ tables instead of at every single guest’s place setting.

2. Think about your location. What climate are these Pins taking place in? If you are getting married in the mountains, there is a higher chance of those unpredictable mountain showers than if you are in the deserts of Arizona. You may see this incredible, elegant outdoor setting with no rain back-up plan in sight, but just keep in mind that it could be in a completely different climate than the one you are in. You have to adapt those pictures to what makes sense for your environment.

3. Know when to stop shopping. Unpin all wedding dresses after you find your wedding dress! ALL wedding dresses!!! I don’t care if it is YOUR dress on a different person. UNPIN it. It will help you from second-guessing yourself.

4. Time it right. You know those cute photos of a bride hanging out with her girls after they’re ALL finished with hair and makeup? Remember that your hair and make-up artists have asked for the time when you all need to be completely ready and they are working off that time. If you want special time for photos, tell your hair and make-up artists and build in an extra 30 minutes to have fun!!!

5. Play the name game. ESCORT BOARDS!!! They should ALWAYS be in alphabetical order, NOT table number order, unless you have less than 60 people. It is so much easier for people to find their names when they’re in ABC order, instead of having to scan through all of the names at different tables. Yes, it is nice for your guests to see who they are sitting with, but they will find out soon enough!

6. Check with your venue. Your selected venue might have restrictions regarding the bar, food, design aspects, etc. Don’t let yourself head down a Pinterest trail and then find out your venue has regulations or rules against your special idea or that they cannot accommodate it! For example, some venues may allow couples to get into the venue three days prior to the wedding day, while others only allow 24 hours—and that makes a huge difference as to how much DIY set-up a couple can do.

7. Balance DIY vs. professional. Some of the DIY ideas you see on Pinterest are actually done by professionals. It is their job to make glitter-dipped feathers, hanging floral monograms, a tiered pie wedding cake or those oh-so-darling table number signs. Take time to watch tutorials and investigate the process before jumping into too many DIY projects. And I always like to have DIY projects wrapped up about one month before your big day!

8. Trust your vendors. Most of the pictures on Pinterest are taken by PROFESSIONAL photographers. If you absolutely LOVE four or five inspirational pictures, then definitely send them over to your photographer. Share them as soon as possible so that they can start scouting out areas if needed. But do not restrain their creativity with a Pinterest board full of dozens of must-have pictures!

9. Consider the behind-the-scenes details. An example: Pizza is an awesome late night snack, but you have to plan a very deliberate delivery schedule for the pizza company so that your servers can get the pizzas out to guests continuously and without delays.

10. Things aren’t always as they appear. Hay bales used as seating for a ceremony are not that comfortable. If you are going to use them, add some padding on top—your guests will thank you! And tree stumps are super heavy. Consider all the logistics of transportation, set-up, and break-down.

I hope these tips help you navigate Pinterest a little better. If you have questions, reach out to the vendors who are tagged in Pins and see if they’d be willing to tell you about their set-up or design. The biggest take-away is to be realistic. Think about the actual execution, cost, and effort—and then decide what’s most important to you!

Venue: The Garment House on Broadway

Photography and Stationary Design: A Day to Adore Photography

Floral and Design: Shana Vaughn Designs

Lighting Photobooth and Sound: Fernando Productions

Hair and Make-up: Hello Lovely

Gowns and Jewelry: Altar Bridal

Tuxedos: Tip Top Tux

Videography: Shawn Gormely Films

Models: Amanda and Jake Weishaar

Cakes: Adorn Cakes

Rentals and Ceiling Install: Ultrapom

Top Reasons for an “Untouched Moment”

First, you may be asking, WHAT is an untouched moment?

I may have invented this term, but I love these moments! It’s that perfect point in time when your reception space is all set up exactly as you have been planning it and envisioning it to be for months or maybe even years. The candles are lit and the aroma of your dinner is in the air and you are whisked in with your new husband and parents to soak in all of the beautiful details. None of the guests have entered yet, and the space is completely “untouched.”

And now you may be asking, WHEN can I have this occur?

Celebrations of Love’s team will work with all of your vendors to make this special moment happen right before cocktail hour or during the very beginning of cocktail hour.

And a final question: WHY is this untouched moment so special?

1.      First and foremost, you can walk freely in your reception space without any interruptions or distractions. You have probably been in it dozens of times during the planning process—but now it is transformed JUST for you two with all of the personal details that were so carefully thought out.

2.      You as a newlywed couple get a few moments together with your parents to savor the excitement of the occasion and to thank one another for all of the work that you’ve each put into the day!

3.      Your photographer and videographer have an opportunity to get detail shots of your reception with YOU two in the pictures and film. This allows them to tell more of the story of your wedding day.

4.      All of the catering staff will come out at the conclusion of your moment to congratulate you and introduce themselves to ensure you know exactly which friendly faces will be taking care of you during dinner service.

5.      Celebrations of Love has also had a couple who wanted to have their “first dance” at this time, so that’s always an option!

6.      You can look at a million floorplans of your reception space, but when you see it all come to life, you can really map out the tables that you would like to mingle with during the celebration.

When working with your planner on your timeline, make sure to allow for a little extra time in the transition for your very own “untouched moment.” It will be a time you truly treasure!


Christine M. Darden

Behind the Scenes of a Styled Shoot

IPhone picture from Celebrations of love

IPhone picture from Celebrations of love

Behind the gorgeousness of a styled shoot, there is an abundance of hard work.

In the wedding industry, vendors like to collaborate on styled shoots for a variety of reasons—from showcasing rebranding processes to getting a chance to meet and work with new vendors.

The most recent one I designed; started when the team at The Garment House on Broadway (formerly Club 1000) wanted to bring together some talented people in the wedding industry to highlight their iconic Kansas City building and show upcoming 2018 brides how they are refreshing the venue’s look.

From the start, this group of vendors had the most amazing ideas to breathe fresh air into the walls of The Garment House’s five incredible floors. The placement of Fernando’s lighting was carefully talked through in order to highlight the details of the building. And the style of florals that Shana developed made sure to bring the eye to the venue’s unique features. All of the vendors worked around the clock to make sure that every detail was aligned with precision. Here are a few unique things about this particular styled shoot:

All of the vendors worked together to pull off TWO full weddings, which means TWO full ceremony set-ups with TWO full reception set-ups. My main job on the day of the shoot was communicating with everyone to coordinate all four “events.” First, we styled the ceremony for our “gold couple” (which is the ceremony that you see on the blog tonight), followed by their reception. Then we moved on to execute the ceremony for our “blush couple” with the grand finale of their reception on the sixth floor. Everyone did a fantastic job reassembling as we moved from floor to floor while also keeping the mood upbeat and fun!!!

We got to play off of some really amazing model styling, like the bride’s rocking faux hawk in this shoot! Our models, Nicole and Scott, were just the cutest. We even got to set up a “first look” after we had each of them all dolled up!

Just like a real wedding day, we always like to do things that are fun, unique and a little over-the- top. In this case, we had to get out a 12-foot ladder while shooting our “blush couple”—and I can’t wait to show you the results!!! STAY TUNED!!!

We all celebrated at the shoot’s finale, sharing some laughs and reminiscing on our first meeting when this extremely ambitious shoot only existed in our notebooks. Now it is finished and many, many brides-to- be will be seeing it at The KC Weddings Bridal Spectacular this weekend!!!

X♥X♥ ,

Christine M. Darden


Venue: The Garment House on Broadway

Photography and Stationary Design: A Day to Adore Photography

Floral and Design: Shana Vaughn Designs

Lighting and Sound: Fernando Productions

Hair and Make-up: Hello Lovely

Gowns and Jewelry: Altar Bridal

Tuxedos: Tip Top Tux

Videography: Shawn Gormely Films

Models: Nicole Bissey and Scott Aurand

Cakes: Adorn Cakes

Rentals: Ultrapom




Three Weddings, One Family  

Kate, Eileen and Kathy on Kathy's beautiful Wedding day!!! Love to all of these ladies!!!

Kate, Eileen and Kathy on Kathy's beautiful Wedding day!!! Love to all of these ladies!!!


Eileen, Kathy and Kate are three brides, all from the same family. Over a span of almost six years, this family has celebrated three weddings with Celebrations of Love, securing an incredibly special place in my heart for years to come. 


These weddings are incredible examples of how Celebrations of Love works to incorporate our clients’ personalities and love for each other into the details of each couple’s wedding day.  I want to share with you how one family can have three amazing weddings that fully reflect each unique couple.

PHOTO BY: bluerue studio

PHOTO BY: bluerue studio






Eileen and Brian C. were the first couple from the family to come to Celebrations of Love.

Time of Year: Summer Wedding

Location: Ceremony and reception at Nativity Parish Church

Colors: Green, brown and ivory

Details: Eileen and Brian incorporated yards and yards of lighting with candlelight to transform the room into a gorgeous, warm, glowing reception. Little did we all know that years later, this church would also be the place where her mother would marry her husband as well!


pHOTO bY: Jason DoMIngUes Photography

pHOTO bY: Jason DoMIngUes Photography

Kate and Brian H. – Brian H. is Eileen’s older brother.

Time of Year: Fall Wedding

Location: Ceremony in the mountains of Meredith, Colorado, and a Kansas City reception at The Lodge in Ironwoods.

Colors: Burgundy, maroon and oranges with rustic accents

Details: Kate’s family carved votive holders and sliced woods for their Kansas City reception to incorporate their wedding ceremony that took place a month earlier in the mountains of Colorado.

Photo BY: Celebrations of Love

Photo BY: Celebrations of Love


Kathy and Rod – Kathy is Brian H’s and Eileen’s mother.

Time of Year: Winter Wedding

Location: Ceremony at Nativity Parish Church with an intimate family luncheon and dancing at the Overland Park Ballroom.

Colors: Whites and ivories with touches of gold

Details: We turned Kathy and Rod’s dining room and kitchen into a space for a formal-but-intimate luncheon for their immediate family, starting with appetizers followed by a three-course meal. Then they wanted to invite their friends and extended loved ones to join in the celebration, so we had an open house with some dancing and music into the night.

 I feel so truly blessed to have shared so many unbelievable memories with this family. I wish all the best to them and their new families!!!

14 Unique Cost-Saving Tips

Blog 1 - Picture.jpg

Engagement season is upon us! Saving money is always a hot topic, so I thought I’d share some unique tips to help maximize your budget during the planning process and on the wedding day.


o   Ask your planner about up-and-coming vendors. Your planner may not have worked with them yet, but newer vendors can often provide a little wiggle room on pricing and date availability.

Invitation Design

o   Use a calligraphy font to digitally address your envelopes, instead of having calligraphy done by hand.

o   Get a single envelope addressed with calligraphy (with your address!).  Include it in a pretty, styled photo for your wedding album, or slip it into a frame or shadow box.


o   Check out hotels that are frequented by business travelers during the week, as their weekend rates will be a lot lower. Also, suburban hotels are going to offer lower rates than “in-city” hotels.

Floral and Décor

o   Stick with standard napkins, which can save up to $2 to $4 per person. Custom or non-standard napkins typically only supply a pop of color on the tablescape, so your budget is probably better spent elsewhere.

o   Skip an accent floral at each place setting. This is a beautiful touch but not worth spending $5 to $7 per place setting. Your planner can arrange to have one place setting accented so that your photographer can snap a special shot.

o   Depending on the timing and locations of your ceremony, cocktail hour and reception, you can repurpose aisle/ceremony décor as accent pieces at the reception. (This will only work if you have a separate cocktail space or if you’re planning an afternoon ceremony and an evening reception.)

o   Candles provide a lot of bang for your buck and create a romantic ambiance.


o   Create two signature drinks for your guests to enjoy throughout the evening, in addition to your beer and wine selections, instead of offering a full range of liquors. I love this idea as it shares a little more about you two as a couple, which is what the day is all about!

o   Forgo wine service at the tables during dinner.

o   Close the bars for 30 minutes so guests can gracefully transition into the reception space. This will eliminate additional setup fees and allow you to have the bar open 30 minutes longer into the evening.


o   Ask the hairstylist who typically cuts your hair if he or she can style your wedding-day hair.

o   Visit a beauty counter a few months prior to your wedding to have your makeup done. Bring a trusted family member or friend, such as your mom or maid of honor. If you like the result, purchase all of the products and do your own wedding-day makeup (with the assistance of your shopping partner). Make sure to practice at least twice prior to the day of.

Bridesmaids’ Attire

o   Rent the Runway offers fabulous designer dresses for rent. Your ladies can borrow a high-end gown for about $50 to $70 (they’ll send two different sizes), instead of spending $175 to $250 on a traditional dress.

By thinking outside of the box, you can cut costs and still end up with the wedding of your dreams. Prioritize, get creative, and never forget the real reason you’re planning this special day! It’s going to be amazing!


Christine M. Darden

Plan a Wedding, Save a Penguin...

Plan a Wedding Save a Penguin

Grooms, this post is more for you!

Groomswear has come into a whole new age over the last couple of years, and I recently got to see firsthand how far it’s come when I connected with an amazing company called Menguin!

Nathan, the owner, and Grayson, a store representative, got in touch with me to share how it all works. Not gonna to lie, I was a little skeptical that an ONLINE company could do a better job getting accurate measurements than a storefront company.

The process starts at the Menguin home page where you decide which tux you would like for all of the men in the party. They offer lots of stylish, quality options, and you can customize everything down to the socks! (Or if you’ve decided to give the men personalized socks as a gift, you can simply select the “No Socks” option.)

Your next step is to create your profile! After you have created a profile on Menguin, the company will get in touch with all of the guys you’ve listed in the system to get their measurements added. Sizing goes from 3T to Big and Tall, so they’re not leaving anyone out!

Now, let’s talk about measurements. Mengiun has developed a proprietary fit algorithm that allows them to guarantee the perfect fit. This guarantee means they will send any replacement items for free if something does not fit to your desire. They have six distribution centers strategically placed throughout the United States for any last-minute fixes with trained representatives available 24/7.

Another thing that really impressed me was that the tuxes get sent to each gentlemen’s DOOR over a week in advance of the wedding. Menguin even goes as far as asking about travel schedules in case there is any question whether the tuxes and accessories will get to someone’s home before he travels to the wedding. So forget about trying to organize all of the guys to get together to go to a storefront the day before the wedding! Between greeting out-of-town guests and enjoying rehearsal activities, you all can just focus on having fun. (Returns are as easy as putting the tux back in the box, adding the prepaid return label, and dropping it off at the hotel or UPS—done!)

And how can you not love a business that benefits penguins?! For every tux or suit rental, Menguin donates to a nonprofit that helps save, clean, and relocate penguins that have been victims of oil spills. Bonus: You can even enter to win a trip to visit the adopted penguins in Chile!

So, grooms, this cool company is definitely an option you can bring up to your fiancées to keep the task off of her to-do list. Beyond taking care of the menswear, if you want to get a little more involved in planning, here are four other areas that you could take on or assist in researching for her:

Work with your DJ to build a playlist

Most DJ companies have an online profile for each of their couples to create different lists and choose songs for all the special moments. Obviously, you don’t have to do all of these, but you may want to select music for these times:

  • Bridal party entrance
  • Newlyweds’ entrance
  • Cocktail music (Often if you give your DJ a desired genre, he can go from there)
  • Cake cutting
  • First dance
  • Father/daughter dance
  • Mother/son dance (More recently, I have seen a combination of father/daughter and mother/son)
  • Anniversary dance
  • Garter toss
  • Bouquet toss
  • Last song of the night

Select beverage options and bar items

Typically, venues and bartending companies will have a range of packages that you can choose from, but they will have you select the specific types of wine and beers that you would like, along with whether you would like a specialty drink of some sort.

Set up your wedding website

The wedding website is SO important, especially for out-of-town guests. Weddingwire and The Knot.com have a variety of templates available, so you can simply select one and incorporate your personalized information. The main items that need to be included on your wedding website are: the ceremony and reception venue’s names, addresses and time of ceremony and reception; a note if it is an outdoor ceremony/reception; hotel accommodations and special instructions on how to reserve a room; any specially arranged transportation; and places that you have registered. And I highly suggest adding a picture of you two so that guests know they are in the right place!

Organize wedding day transportation beverages and snacks

Be sure to check with your transportation company first, but most companies will allow for alcohol as long as everyone on board is over 21 years old. Some school bus companies also require the beverages to be in aluminum or plastic. A couple things to keep in mind: Don’t have too many options of beverages—one beer and one cider or wine is typically just fine; soft coolers are easier to transport and move around; add a trash bag or two for empties; include snacks that are not too messy (so no Cheetos :-) ); pack some waters, a wine/bottle opener, and some clear plastic cups!

There are many times between your engagement and your wedding day when you’ll see a look of “Oh my goodness, this wedding planning stuff is a lot of work!” in your dear fiancée’s eyes. In that moment, offer to take over or help out in one or more of these areas. You’ll relieve a little of your future bride’s stress and contribute an extra personal touch. Getting involved in the planning—however you choose to do so—will make your big day that much more special!


Christine M. Darden

My Celebrations of Love Journey ♥♥♥

Celebrations of Love 2015

I often hear, “You have the best job ever!” Yes!!! Yes, I do!!! For me personally, I believe I have the best job ever. Of course, there are times that it’s super hard, times when I cry and sweat over super small things—but the truth is I would not have it any other way.  

I feel that everyone has a calling in life and a unique set of skills that they develop and discover, whether that happens early or later in life. Fortunately for me, my skills developed at the “perfect” time. I say “perfect” because at the time that they were emerging, I was kind of in a hard spot in my life. But looking back, it was DEFINITELY the PERFECT time for them to start growing and shining.

During my junior year in college (2009…WHAT A YEAR!?), I did a lot of soul-searching as I went through a tough breakup and a huge recession hit the business world. I will not bore you with the month-by-month breakdown, but bottom line, one of my roommates “K” made the simple suggestion that we serve at a local wedding venue—it was a way to get me out of the apartment and make some money. I really, truly had NO CLUE what I was in for, and little did I know that my future career was going to stem from those late evenings working in college.

“K” and I served several times during that spring semester, and each time I got more and more excited to be a part of the weddings and events that were taking place. Mid-semester, I realized I had fallen in love with the wedding world, so I contacted EVERY top venue in the Kansas City area to see if I could work as an intern, server, bartender, front desk person, anything that would allow me to dip my pinky toe into the Kansas City wedding industry.

I made call after call after call from my personalized spreadsheet of venues in between classes and study halls, and I landed my very first interview with The Clubhouse on Baltimore, now known as Brass on Baltimore. Nervous and excited, I timidly walked in 30 minutes early and sat down with Deb; General Manger of The Brass on Baltimore. Shortly after I arrived home from the interview and tour, I checked my email and couldn’t believe my eyes… They hired me as their intern for the summer of 2009.

The opportunities were endless during my internship. I took on as much as I was given and more. From early morning set-ups to late, late-night teardowns, those 18+ hour days seemed like nothing to this wide-eyed, eager-to-learn wedding intern.

Now fast forward one year to spring 2010: I was preparing for graduation and still interning with The Brass on Baltimore but did not have a full-time job lined up for post-graduation as many of my other classmates did. So instead of throwing caution to the wind by going on a “party” spring break trip, I pulled up those grown-up pants and headed back to Kansas City to put in the order for my LLC—one of the hardest yet best decisions I have ever made. Celebrations of Love was born!

Five and a half years later, I now have an amazing company with incredible contacts in the wedding industry, people all over the United States whom I could count on in a heartbeat (and vice versa from me to them!). Celebrations of Love has ventured to Washington DC, Las Vegas, Saint Louis, Topeka and countless events in Kansas City and its surrounding suburbs.

I have been running my business full-time for over a full year now and there is no turning back. My next step is to spread the joy that Celebrations of Love has brought to me… More details to come on this new adventure in the coming months.


Christine M Darden  

Escort Cards vs. Escort Board

A question I receive a lot as a wedding planner is: “What’s the best way to show guests where to sit?”

I know the seating chart is a daunting “last month of wedding planning” task, one of those to-dos that must wait until last minute because of the RSVP deadline. But here are some things to think about before the final month to make your seating chart process go as smoothly as possible!

Escort card

The formal card that is set out in alphabetical order as guests are moving into the dining room for dinner. This card has the guest’s name and table number so that he or she knows where they’re being “escorted” to from the entrance of the venue.

Place card

The card that is preset at the place setting of each dining table. This place card is essential if there are different entrée selections that guests have noted on their RSVP cards. You will need to have a different indicator for each entrée option. A popular way to indicate the different dishes is by using a different colored card for each type of meal.

Escort board

An escort board displays an alphabetical list of guests by last name with the respective table number next to each name; the list is typically separated by letter on a large board that’s usually 24 by 36 inches in size. There are two types of escort boards: ones that are fully printed through your invitation designer like the one to the right, or you can make your own “board.”

To go the DIY route, take a large piece of fabric and wrap a 24 x 36-inch foam board, then hot glue the edges of the fabric to the back. Then, hot glue a second foam board to the back to cover any jagged edges. Next, print the guests’ names out onto 4x6 or 5x7 cards alphabetically by last name with the respective table number next to each name. You can use as many 4x6 or 5x7s as you would like but just make sure each one has a “title” that indicates which letters are on that specific card. (See picture for details.) And finally, glue, pin or tape those cards in alphabetical order to the board that you have made. If desired, you can frame the board with an open air frame 24 x 36-inch frame to really finish out the whole look.

One small thing that sometimes gets forgotten is table numbers for the tables. If you are one of my clients, ask me about this as I have lots of ideas for you! If you decide to name the tables instead of using numbers, you’ll have to display a floorplan with the table nameson the respective tables near the escort cards or board; otherwise, guests will not know what sequence the names go in, even if it is alphabetical order.


Pros and Cons of Escort Cards


  • They are more traditional and guests know exactly what they are when they see that table full of cards.
  • You can double them as place cards if you are doing different options for a plated dinner and you do not want to pick every guest’s seat for them.  If you do this, remember you have to make one for each guest individually.
  • Easier to make extras at the last minute if guests decide to RSVP two days before the wedding.
  • You can double them as a favor by tying each one to a fun treat (a cookie, bottle of champagne, popcorn etc.)


  • If you are trying to double them as place cards to indicate entrée selections, you will need to tell your emcee to let the guests know to place them in front of their place settings at the table prior to the start of dinner service.
  • If the writing is too fancy or the lighting is too low, guests might have trouble seeing their names.
  • They can get out of order quickly if guests accidentally pick up the wrong person’s card and place it in a different spot on the table.
  • If your foyer or cocktail area is tight on space, then an 8 to 10-foot table full of cards may be hard to squeeze in.

Pros and Cons of an Escort Board


  • Guests can quickly find their names under the corresponding letter.
  • You do not need to alphabetize individual cards; the list is already printed in alphabetical order.
  • Guests can easily look at where other friends are sitting to make sure to visit those tables and catch up with them at some point in the evening.
  • The board is portable and can be moved in the middle of cocktail hour from the front entrance of the venue to the entrance of the dining room to give people two chances to find their names and table numbers.
  • It is compact and takes up little to no space in a foyer or cocktail space.


  • It cannot double as place cards or favors.
  • If you decide on the fully printed option, last-minute guests are not on there and you will have to tell them individually which table they are sitting at.
  • I hope this helps out with your seating chart process! I know it can be an overwhelming task during your last month of planning, but having assigned seats is so inviting and efficient for your family and friends at your reception.


Christine M Darden


October: Breast Cancer Awareness Month & A Dream Vow Renewal

Britta and Chris Vow Renewal

From pink sports gear on the NFL field to the pink ribbon displayed around town, it’s hard to miss the fact that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. And for Celebrations of Love, this month includes a very special Dream Vow Renewal for a lucky couple of mine.

On a cold day in January, after sharing a coffee and explaining my dream for them, we marked down October 17, 2015 as the big day for Britta and Chris’s Dream Vow Renewal.

This couple has been through so much. Over 15 years ago, during their engagement, Britta found out that she had breast cancer. This news is definitely not what a newly engaged couple wants to face during their wedding planning process. Even in the midst of scheduling meetings with venues and vendors around chemo treatments, Britta and Chris grew stronger and closer through their engagement and the chemotherapy. They were married on October 2000.

Britta is a fighter and made it through her battle with flying colors and with Chris supporting her every step of the way. Then, about five years ago, I moved in across the sidewalk from Britta and Chris and learned of their story—of how their engagement was hit with cancer and how they forged through the difficult time together, no matter what was thrown their way. My heart started to melt and it made me think about how I could create something really special for them with the help of my friends in the Kansas City wedding industry.

When I heard that their 15-year anniversary was coming up, I hopped into gear, dreaming up ideas to share with them on how to make this day extraordinary for them. Unfortunately, I got a call in the middle of my planning that Britta was going through chemo again and taking the option of a double mastectomy. Not only that, but the couple was going through a hard time with insurance companies and job loss.

I felt a mixture of sadness and confusion. But after a lot of prayers, I met Britta for coffee and shared my new plan: I wanted to gather my wedding friends together and have them donate what they could to make Britta and Chris’s 15-year anniversary celebration so, so amazing. About that same time, Britta found out that she was in remission and my heart began to jump for joy. We started putting all of the plans into full force!!!

Through all of these ups and downs, Britta and Chris are a true example of how it takes three to be a marriage—you, your spouse and God. There is no doubt that God is truly present and living through them to show other people what His love looks like.

I’m thrilled to share a few pictures from the planning journey and acknowledge all of the incredible wedding friends who donated their time, energy and love to Britta and Chris. A huge, heartfelt THANK YOU to each of you!

Britta and Chris's Vow Renewal

Jason Domingues Photography – Couple's “Engagement” Session

Jolie Artistry – Britta's Couple “Engagement” Session Make-up

Little Yellow Leaf – Full Tailored Collection Invitations Suite

Jacob's Well – Ceremony Venue

Wilderness Clubhouse – Reception Venue

Icing on the Cake – Wedding Cake

Elite Sounds Entertainment – GOBO Light

Top Shelf – Two bartenders

Poppy and Clover – Reception Floral arrangements and Britta’s bridal bouquet/Chris's boutonniere/Bridal party Personals

Spencer Studios Photography – October 17th Vow Renewal Photography

One Block South Catering – Reception Food/Appetizers

Friend of Britta and Chris's – DJ/Emceeing

Amy Castro with Overland Park Ballroom – Couple Dance Lessons


Wedding décor turned First Home décor

Wedding Planning Tips

A lot of people out there will say, “Your wedding is only one day of your life!” and that’s true—your wedding day is only one 24-hour period of time. But you CAN bring items from your wedding day into your new home so that your memories become a part of the space you two share AFTER the big day!

Here are some examples of how I incorporated a few of our wedding items into our home:

1. A standard shadow box can show off several items, creating a pretty presentation or “snapshot” of the overall wedding. To start, it’s a great space to display your invitation and save the date. You can also add some dried flowers from your bouquet or your groom’s boutonniere, your and your husband’s place cards from the reception dinner, fabric from your bridesmaids’ dresses, personalized napkins, the cake topper, and the rehearsal dinner invitation.

The frame of the shadow box I used measures 16 x 20 inches. You can usually find them on sale at Hobby Lobby and Michael’s (or use a coupon!). And while you’re picking up the shadow box frame, be sure to grab a package of pearl-tipped pins because the box typically only includes four.

2. You can incorporate your guest book into the décor of your guest bedroom or even your family room. Our guest book is not actually a book; it’s more of a piece of art that’s hung on a wall. But even if you used a physical book, place it in a space that’s visible to visitors and friends so it becomes a conversation piece. They’ll be able to reminisce on the words they shared in it, or if they are new friends, they’ll enjoy reading through the names and well wishes from your wedding guests.

3. During your wedding cocktail hour or the reception itself, guests may like to take a look at some of your family wedding photos. After all, a number of your guests could have also attended your parents’ weddings! This type of photo display takes people down memory lane and sparks the retelling of fun stories.

If you do decide to share pictures of your families’ weddings on your own big day, purchase frames that you and your fiancé would also like for your home and have the pictures inserted into those frames. Then, all you have to do when you’re unwrapping items after the reception is pop those beautiful framed photos onto a wall or dresser.

4. This is definitely the nerdy “I LOVE WEDDINGS” part of me… but let’s talk about table numbers. These paper pieces typically get tossed after the big day, but that doesn’t have to be the case! When you’re working on your table numbers, make sure to have all of the numbers that make up your wedding date.

For example, if your wedding date is September 5, 2015, then you’d want to have the numbers 9, 5, 20 and 15. Of course, if you only need 10 tables at the reception, you don’t have to place the 15 and 20 on tables; just be sure to hold onto them for after the wedding. That way, you can put them together with the 5 and 9 from the reception and display the date of your wedding in a unique way in your home.

These are just a few ideas to get you thinking! Definitely print and frame some photos of you and your husband, and display your wedding album in an area where you and your guests can flip through it often. Although it’s only one day, your wedding is full of so many moments that truly last a lifetime!


Christine M. Darden