Portland, OREGON :: David & Spencer :: It's All In The Details // Real LGBTQ Wedding

:: It’s All In The Details ::

Photography :: Steele Photography

You always hear other couples say their wedding was ‘the best day ever”, but our wedding really was the BEST day ever! Everything was perfectly masculine with touches of glam throughout… What more could two grooms ask for? From custom furniture, lighting, napkins and matchbooks to signature cocktails, photobooth and a live band – no detail went unnoticed.

We each had our must have list during the planning process. Delegation and teamwork is a must! David was all about the food (oh the food!) and booze. Spencer was all about the ambiance. Really take the time to make your wedding specific to you as a couple. Don’t be scared to ask for things out of the norm! And don’t feel like you have to do something because it “is normal”. After all, you only get this day once!

We wouldn’t have been able to make our wedding day dreams come to life without the expertise of our planner and coordination team who worked closely with our long list of rock star vendors. Choose these people wisely – you will spend a lot of time with them.

We’ll never forget the feeling of walking into our venue the day of seeing everything come to life and taking a moment to truly appreciate each and every detail. No one ever tells you how fast wedding day goes. Be careful to not blink or it might be over 😉 Don’t stress about the small stuff (small stuff will happen that no one will ever even notice) and take every second of amazingness in.

DISTINCTIONS

Two Grooms. Masculine Glam. Best Day Ever.

THE PROFESSIONALS

Photography :: Steele Photography
Venue :: West End Ballroom
Styling & Design :: Luxe Event Productions
Videography :: Watt Films
Catering :: To Dine For
Liquid Catering :: My Bartender
Dessert :: Rosycakes
Rentals :: Classic Vintage
Rentals :: LaTavola Linen
Rentals :: Barclay
Lighting :: Greenlight Creative
Drape :: West Coast Drape
Floral :: Spencer’s Sister

LOCATION

Portland, Oregon, USA.

COLORS

    

Top Five Friday :: Top 5 Questions to Ask a Wedding Planner Before You Hire Them

:: Top 5 Questions to Ask a Wedding Planner Before You Hire Them ::

Hiring a wedding planner is a big deal. Some are great, some are not so great. Some are all about equality, some are, simply put, not! A place to start is right here on MRSter, which lists vendors that embrace high standards and treat all people with respect. Check out our awesome FABuLISTers here!

Before interviewing candidates, be sure of a few basics, for example: your budget, the date of your wedding, and how many guests you are expecting. In the meantime, here are the top five questions you need to ask a wedding planner before you hire them…

1 :: What is included in your services? Wedding planners have a multitude of services they can offer, so you need to be sure they can fulfill your needs. Can they fulfill your vision? Can the planner offer you a timeline of tasks? Will the planner provide a breakdown of dollars spent for each budget item? Ask to look at a typical contract. Be sure you get a breakdown of every service you require. There are planning checklists online that will help you determine what you need your planner to do and what you can do yourself. Take notes.

2 :: What is your level of experience? (and associated questions)? How long has the planner been in business. Does he or she have credentials or awards? Does he or she have a business license? How many weddings does the planner typically do in a year? Does he or she have the proper number of staff to run your event?

3 :: Which vendors do you work with? Are we only able to work with your vendors or can we choose our own? Note that wedding planners usually develop relationships with tried and true vendors who they know are reliable and will charge fair rates. But, if you have a friend who is an awesome photographer for instance, you might want to have the liberty of hiring that person.

4 :: Tell us about a really big complication you ran into in planning a wedding and how you solved it. This will give you some insight into the planner’s ability to problem solve.

5 :: Can you provide us with references? Experienced planners should easily be able to provide references. They should also have a portfolio of photos or videos of weddings they have done.  

After the interview, you need to ask yourself how you felt about the potential planner. Were they open and receptive to your ideas, or were the determined to sway you in their direction? Were they friendly or did you detect a distancing? Did you get the impression that the planner was hearing you? You will be working with this person very closely so you need to feel comfortable with the relationship and confident in the planner’s ability to create a beautiful event based on what you want to do. Be sure to interview several planners. Take a few days to decide. You’ll be glad you did.

What questions did you, or will you, be asking your wedding planner?

Wedding Wisdom Wednesday :: Get Celebrity Style for Less for Your Big Day

:: Get Celebrity Style for Less for Your Big Day ::

Talking to Michael Schmidt of award winning {and MRSter Approved} Parker and Schmidt Clothiers was a real learning experience. Michael has been in this family business for 12 years and really knows his stuff. Gleaning from his father, Michael started the business by going door to door and is now doing 40-50 weddings per month! Michael is a bi-lingual entrepreneur with an MBA and a great sense of style. You can purchase {MRSter ApprovedParker and Schmidt Clothiers stunningly great looking products at very reasonable rates, which is an exceedingly better option than renting a tux or suit.

Parker and Schmidt

Here are the results of our interview…

MRSter :: What tips can you offer to achieve celebrity chic?

Michael :: One button suits and tuxes with a shawl lapel (rounded edge in a continuous curve) are very much in vogue for formal occasions. Jacket and pants don’t need to match, but if you’re wearing a vest, it should match the pants. For a modern look, consider a jacket with elbow pads. Yup, that’s right… They are coming back! Open collars are an option for a less formal look. Michael can help you customize your look so you can look trendy, yet comfortably you.

MRSter :: What styles should you avoid?

Michael :: Peak lapels (lapel edges point up and toward the shoulder) are trying to make a comeback, but it’s not going to happen. Striped pants are definitely dated, as are pleated shirts and cummerbunds. Polyester blends are not the best fabric choice, and linen wrinkles like crazy.

MRSter :: What are some practical designs for long days of looking your best?

Michael :: Super 140s through 180s lightweight wool (refers to fineness) is the way to go. This fabric is quite comfortable, keeps you cool in warm weather and warm in cool weather, and is resistant to soiling and wrinkling. We now carry non-iron cotton shirts in 23 colors with cuts from slim to traditional. Some have french cuffs. We get these overseas from a vendor that infuses the cotton with fabric softener during the manufacturing process. Also, proper tailoring is important for comfort as well as looks. You can have the finest suit or tux in the world and still look frumpy if is ill-fitted.

MRSter :: Speaking of tailoring, there are quite a few women who opt for wearing a tux or a suit. Are their special techniques to tailoring a suit to fit a woman’s body?

Michael :: Absolutely. We offer modern and hip styling and proper tailoring is of the utmost importance. Suit/tux alterations are a major aspect of our business, but a simple operation. For women, alterations are generally focused around the hips and front of the pants as well as the waist. We often remove the belt line, raise it and reattach it. The biggest issue in tailoring for women are shirts due to the smaller size of a woman’s neck. What we generally do is utilize two shirt sizes, removing the collar of each, swapping them, and re attaching the collar to the smaller neck measurement. This allows for a perfect fit. By the way, suspenders and bow ties are definitely in and make for a fun experience. Also the trend is wearing Vans or Converse shoes – very popular!

Well, there you have it readers. Thank you, Michael! We appreciate your expert input (plus it was fun and interesting to chat with you!). Don’t forget to check out Michael’s FABuLISTing here.

Top Five Friday :: Top 5 Wedding Floral Tips

:: Top 5 Wedding Floral Tips ::

MRSter is pleased to present this post from Robin of Bootah Jardin Florists! Robin is VERY knowledgeable about flowers and can help with budget-friendly ideas or full service arrangements in the Vancouver, BC area.

Her family-run business specializes in do-it-yourself event and wedding flowers, so who better to ask for some top tips to keep that floral budget down?!

1 :: Don’t focus on seasonality alone :: Requesting seasonal flowers is the single most suggested tip for trimming your flower costs, but it’s also the most out-dated. This might have been true at one time, but an expansive international floral trade has made seasonality a much less prominent factor in pricing.

There are still flowers that fluctuate in price with the seasons, but by and large, most flower pricing is stable. Rather than seasonality, flowers fall into categories- they’re either budget-friendly, high-end, or somewhere in between. So the flowers you love- despite being in the peak of their availability- may not be the most cost-effective option.

Wedding Floral

Photography :: Andrea Ball Photography

2 :: The influence of colour on price :: Colour isn’t a factor for all flower pricing, but it is for certain blooms. Where we live, particular flowers- like callas, peonies, and dahlias- are priced differently by growers based on colour. This is basic supply and demand, so unless a particular flower/colour combo holds special significance for you, request a general colour theme versus specific combinations.

3 :: The effect of flower holidays on pricing :: The two weeks preceding Valentine’s and Mother’s Day are the busiest times of year in the floral industry, and the increased demand causes a significant spike in pricing. Not only will you feel the effects of this increased demand when you seek a quote, but you may also struggle to find a florist willing to take on your wedding during these busy times.

Red Rose Bouquet

Photography :: Wilson Lau Photography

4 :: Flexibility goes far when it comes to getting the best quote :: It’s great (and fun!) to have a vision for your big day, but the more specific you are with your requests, the more expensive your floral quote is likely to be. Your florist is restricted to buying flowers in bunches and buckets, so to meet your requests exactly, they may have to order more than they will need to use. You will still be charged for those extra flowers, so if you’re flexible on certain details, this may save you some money in the long run.

5 :: Fillers and greens are not cheap :: Adding greens and fillers to an arrangement may bring the cost down, but like all things floral, it really depends on the details. Certain greens, like dusty miller and silver brunia, are more costly than many flowers and have the opposite effect on pricing. In general, adding accents tends to increase the cost of arrangements, as the added fillers provide great texture, but don’t add much to the volume. This is why those wildflower bouquets that look simple and inexpensive are often more costly than a basic rose bouquet. It takes a lot of flowers to achieve that look, and they all add up in the end.

Wedding Floral

Photography :: Alyssa Schroeder Bouquet

MRSter wishes to thank Robin for her willingness to share her expertise on our website. We think she has some great money saving ideas, don’t you?! Be sure to check out her website here!

Top Five Friday :: Why You Should Consider an Underwater Engagement Session

:: Why You Should Consider an Underwater Engagement Session ::

Guess what? We have a MRSter approved photographer who does underwater photography, even engagement sessions! We thought this would make a fascinating ‘Top Five’ feature. So as a result, we are presenting the “Top Five Reasons Why You Should Consider an Underwater Engagement Session,” featuring photographer extraordinaire Alyssa, of {MRSter Approved} Alyssa Campbell Photography.

1 :: Anyone can have an underwater engagement session. You don’t have to have special skills to be photographed underwater except being able to swim, being able to open your eyes underwater, and being able to hold your breath for brief, intermittent periods of time. Alyssa says, The most important thing in my experience, is that people feel relatively comfortable underwater. If having your head underwater makes you feel panicked, then an underwater session isn’t for you. I’ve found most people who are interested in underwater sessions naturally are “water people”. You definitely do not have to be a professional swimmer/freediver, etc however! I can’t hold my breath that long, so we are generally only under the water for maybe 30 seconds at a time.”

2 :: An underwater engagement session is a truly unique and awesome experience and underscores the specialness of your love for one another. Per Alyssa, “Water has this interesting, almost magical quality of making things look so beautiful and graceful. People often tell me that they are amazed at how graceful and beautiful they look when they see the finished photos. This is due in part to good photography and coaching, but mostly, that’s just the effect that water has! My style is also based heavily on natural emotions and interactions between couples. I have a psychology degree, so I draw on that in observing couple’s natural interactions and personalities, and bring that into the shoot in order to make the shoot reflective of each couple’s unique personalities and relationships.

3 :: Your photographer is highly experienced and will let you know what to do every step of the way. Alyssa states, “ I’ve been doing underwater portraits for at least 5 years, and professionally for about 3 years. I have been a photographer for over 6 years and a scuba diver for half my life. I draw on all of those skills for my sessions.”

4 :: As far as where to shoot, Alyssa tells me: “I currently have a “home pool” in Mesa, AZ where I do most of my sessions, however I am happy to come to clients’ homes if their pools are suited for a session, or travel – especially to places such as Hawaii! 😉 Water clarity is the most important factor for the shoot success. If someone wants portraits somewhere that the water clarity might not be as ideal, there are lots of other options to still get some underwater portraits. For example, let’s say that a particular beach in California is especially meaningful to a couple and they want some beach portraits, then some underwater portraits. Oftentimes on beaches, sand gets stirred up by the waves, making the water clarity pretty bad until you swim out pretty far, at which point that makes most people a bit nervous and uncomfortable because of the water depth. Not to mention it’s a lot more physically taxing. So, in that case, I would do regular portraits on the beach, then move into the water and have the couple be half submerged. It still gives the look and feel of underwater in a location that is meaningful to them and mitigates the issues of water clarity. You could also do this same idea for example at a river, as long as it was shallow and posed no safety concerns. Safety is where working with a professional UNDERWATER photographer – not someone who wants to try it for the first time – is essential. Any time that I am in a place where my clients can’t touch, I have an assistant for safety.”

5 :: Underwater engagement sessions give you an empowering sense of freedom and an ability to express yourself like no other venue. Alyssa agrees. “It’s such a unique way to express your personality and get something different from ANYTHING else out there. That’s the number one reason people come to me – they want their engagement photos to look different. Underwater photography is a very small niche with only a few photographers doing it currently. The possibilities are endless. You can have a simple session with just you and your partner, or you can bring a theme which opens up a lot of potential fun ideas to explore. You can also do a half underwater, half more traditional land shoot as well.”

Well, I have to say that this blogger is impressed. Kinda wish I had known about this a long time ago! Thanks Alyssa, for opening up a new world of photographic possibilities for our readers. How would you feel about an underwater photo shoot?

Wedding Wisdom Wednesday :: Why the Wedding Industry & Engaged Couples Need MRSter

:: Why the Wedding Industry & Engaged Couples Need MRSter ::

We hate to brag (not really), but MRSter serves a valuable purpose to both the wedding industry and ALL engaged couples. We believe that all engaged couples should be treated equally. We recently interviewed MRSter co-founder Cicely Rocha Miller and MRSter Approved Photographer, Justin McCallum of Justin McCallum Photography on the subject of why the wedding industry and engaged couples need MRSter. We thought it was a good idea to present these questions from our point of view and that of a candid vendor, and hope you agree.

MRSter :: What is it that makes MRSter unique?

Cicely :: We vet all of the wedding vendors that want to list with us through an application process; researching them and confirm their marketing materials are inclusive. We also aren’t just about gay weddings, we are about ALL weddings, as we welcome and celebrate straight couples as well.

Justin :: I was thankful to come across MRSter not only as a wedding vendor myself, but as a member of the LGBTQ community. With rhetoric dividing the conversation surrounding same-sex weddings between exclusion or normalization, it is inspiring to see an online resource that presents couples as they are, without judgement or emphasis on the ‘wedding-industrial-complex.’ MRSter is a space for couples to seek out inspirational and aspirational wedding planning resources with real examples and vendors who are actually reflective of them.

MRSter :: What is the most common error(s) vendors make specific to LGBT engaged couples?

Cicely :: Constantly referring in print, social media and on their websites, to their clients as “Brides”.

Justin :: Having mistakenly landed on the receiving end of many a wedding vendor e-blast, nothing makes me hit “SPAM” faster than immediately calling a wedding planner the “bride” and mentioning a “hubby-to-be” later on. To make such assumptions in today’s day and age is so short-sighted, that it immediately makes me call into question whether they can understand the nuances unique to any relationship, let alone a LGBTQ partnership. In a similar vein, however, couples shouldn’t look exclusively for LGBTQ vendors. Just being queer doesn’t guarantee they’ll vibe with you or your boo, so make sure you meet with vendors before you hire them, since they have to be a good fit for every nook and cranny of you.

MRSter :: How can we best assist vendors?

Cicely :: We offer education, tips and ideas on how to attract the new demographic through an email marketing series that will help them BUILD MORE WEDDING BUSINESS. Click here to sign up!

Justin :: Although I think MRSter has a burgeoning social media presence, I have never seen any marketing or other efforts to grow the network. I think it may be a great website for couples to Pin photos or look at the occasional wedding, but it is lacking a bit of the authority necessary to make couples outright book vendors based on being featured or seeing a profile. That could also be improved with sharper web design.

Cicely :: (in response to Justin). We are aware, and that is something we greatly desire to change. We are working with designers currently to try and work out an easier way for our MRSter Approved vendors to be booked. Thank you for your insight, Justin! We are always open and grateful to hear feedback as to how we can make this resource as user-friendly as possible!

MRSter :: How can we best assist engaged couples?

Cicely :: We offer an amazing list of vendor partners through the FABuLIST. These MRSter Approved vendors are those that celebrate your engagement and love; not merely tolerate it. We offer stories of other wedding days and tips on planning as well.

MRSter :: What still needs to be done to engage greater acceptance of LGBT couples?

Cicely :: Practicing what you are preaching. It’s not about adding a rainbow to your website and assuming that will take care of being inclusive in your business. It’s about you, as a professional wedding vendor, being among the first to practice and implement the tips and suggestions we offer to attract more wedding business.

Justin: MRSter is on the right to track to hasten acceptance of LGBTQ couples by presenting their unique love stories and avoiding stereotypes. Similarly, presenting same-sex couples alongside straight counterparts without division legitimates their love as ordinary, and removes the stigma of being “other.” Continued, honest representation of LGBTQ couples is the clearest path to greater acceptance.

MRSter offers heartfelt thanks to Justin McCallum for his forthright and honest responses. If any of our readers have something to add, we’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Top Five Friday :: Cash Bar VS Open Bar // Pros & Cons

:: Cash Bar VS Open Bar // Pros & Cons ::

A common conundrum that couples face when planning their wedding is deciding to have a cash bar or an open bar. There are many differences of opinion as to what is the ‘best’ option to go for, and it can be a tough choice to make. Today, we will be discussing the pros and cons of both cash bars, and open bars.

A cash bar is defined as:

A bar at a social function at which guests buy drinks rather than having them provided free.”

An open bar is defined as:

“A bar at a special function at which the drinks have been paid for by the host.”

We consulted business owner Dave Foreman, of {MRSter Approved} Pour Masters Bar Service, for his professional take on cash vs an open bar.

Dave states:

You have 2 scenarios to consider. Licensed and unlicensed locations. Usually when there is a cash bar, there is a liquor license on property. This can get expensive for the [happy couple] if they have an open bar since the bottle prices are very high. If it’s a cash bar then you will have more of a variety and a lower invoice.”

Please see his further comments as indicated in our Top 5 Pros and Cons list as follows:

:: Pros // Cash (No Host) Bar ::

  • 1 :: Less risk of guests over-indulging. Dave adds, “The bartenders will always have control over how the guests drink, so it’s a small variable between a hosted and non-hosted bar.”
  • 2 :: Less expensive for the hosts
  • 3 :: Easier for controlling costs
  • 4 :: Less liability
  • 5 :: May be considered acceptable in your area

:: Cons // Cash (No Host) Bar ::

  • 1 :: Worry over what guests will think about having to pay for their own beverages
  • 2 :: Guests may not have thought about bringing cash for drinks
  • 3 :: The drinks may be too expensive
  • 4 :: Guests may leave earlier
  • 5 :: You may be perceived as a party-pooper

:: Pros // Open (Hosted) Bar ::

  • 1 :: Many guests will expect an open bar
  • 2 :: It’s widely considered classier
  • 3 :: It’s a way of giving back to your friends and family
  • 4 :: People will loosen up and enjoy the party even more
  • 5 :: Guests will generally have more drink choices

:: Cons // Open (Hosted) Bar ::

  • 1 :: Some guests may take advantage of your hospitality
  • 2 :: It may yield some unruly guests if people feel free to drink too much
  • 3 :: You may run a greater risk of people driving home drunk
  • 4 :: It may act as a distraction (hanging out at the bar) and keep people from watching or participating in other activities
  • 5 :: It’s expensive. However, Dave tells us that, “When you have a open bar at a non-licensed site, you can control your costs better and choose the brands you would like to serve.”

MRSter thanks Dave Foreman, who has been serving in the bartending industry for over nineteen years. Dave believes that bartending is not just preparing drinks, but also the customer service given. Way to go, Dave!

What are your thoughts on cash bars VS open bars? We would love to hear your opinions in the comments below!

Top Five Friday :: Top 5 Things Same-Sex Couples Need to Know When Selecting a Wedding Vendor

:: Top 5 Things Same-Sex Couples Need to Know When Selecting a Wedding Vendor ::

Let’s face it, planning a wedding is stressful, no doubt about it, and for the same-sex couple, you don’t need the hassle of trying to work with wedding vendors who are not savvy about the modern union. We consulted Drew Coleman, professional wedding planner and MRSter co-founder, on the subject of the top 5 things same-sex couples should know when selecting wedding vendors.

Drew Coleman

Drew Coleman

1 :: Experience. How long has the vendor been working with gay couples? It is a good practice to ask the potential vendor about their direct experience and the question may get them to open up about their view on the subject.

2 :: Paperwork: Does the vendor use gender-neutral paperwork and practice neutral processes? Make sure their contracts, forms, and other documentation are properly worded to include your spouse and yourself so you don’t have to cross out “bride” or “groom”. That would be annoying to say the least and is certainly not in keeping with  modern union practices.

Wedding Documentation

3 :: Team Values. Does the entire team share the owner’s’ values? Will the workers on the wedding day be just as gay-friendly? Ask, “What are you doing in your business to make sure your entire team and everybody we come in contact with from your company shares your same values of inclusiveness?”

4 :: Website. When looking at the vendor’s online presence, does it appear that they celebrate diversity and inclusiveness? Ask, “What are you doing in your marketing and social media to show couples that you are open and inclusive?”

MRSter

5 :: Reviews and References. Do the vendors have good reviews in general? Are their any references from gay couples the vendor is willing to share?

Your wedding should be all about the two of you. It is your wedding and you get to make it whatever you want it to be.The bottom line is to make sure you are working with people who respect and honor your right to be together as a couple.

Are you planning your wedding and looking for gay-friendly wedding vendors? Check out our amazing FABuLISTers!!

Phoenix, ARIZONA :: Melanie & Laine :: Key To My Heart // Real LGBTQ Engagement

:: Key To My Heart  ::

Submitted & Photographed by :: {MRSter Approved} Elizabeth Douglas Photography

Life is a journey in so many ways. In lives we lead, in the relationships we have, and sometimes, in the bodies we were born with.

I met Melanie {MRSter Advisory Board Member} and Laine last summer, as they had won an engagement session at the Phoenix Pride Silent Auction in June. Before our face to face meeting, Melanie had sent me a link to their website, I think to “prep” me for what I was going to be experiencing during my time with them. Take some time and enjoy the “journey” with them by taking a look at Melanie’s blog here.

Their engagement session ended up being a combination of an engagement and holiday photo session with Melanie’s four kids, who were just a hoot! They weren’t too keen on an actual photo shoot, but by the end, three of them had become my “helpers” and were asking if I’d ever need any models in the future! It was so wonderful to see how excited they were for their mom and Laine, and made the shoot even more fun with some of their antics (as you can see from the images!).

Laine’s transformation from a woman to a man has been quite incredible. They’ve planned their wedding around the time when Laine’s journey would be complete. Their engagement session took place close to the half way point of this journey, as they wanted the process documented through photos as well.

I’m so grateful to have been a part of this “journey” with them, and am so excited to follow their love story as it continues to unfold.

DISTINCTIONS

Engagement. Journey. LGBTQ Transformation. Family Photos.

THE PROFESSIONALS

Photography :: {MRSter Approved} Elizabeth Douglas Photography

LOCATION

Granada Park, Phoenix, Arizona